Marathon Running at 74

 

Written by Teddy Burch in the April 2008 Issue

When the thought of running a long distance crosses my mind, I see visions of Forrest Gump running through the desert with Bob Seger’s, Against the Wind playing in the background. Local resident and marathon runner, Tom Briggs, 74, sees something a little different.

“I have to watch my feet or I’m going to be falling to the ground,” he explains as he laughs about some of his previous experiences.

However, some of those experiences include 22 consecutive Boston Marathons, the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and the Lower Potomac River Marathon in Maryland. Over the years he has run just about every major marathon. He averages running about 150 miles a month, and as we did our math, our calculations equal about 43,200 miles he has run since he began long distance running in 1980.

That’s Edmond to Norman and back 775 times.

“I’ve got a good pair of shoes,” he said, then added, “Although I don’t like it, when it’s raining, I keep on running.”

Some years back, Briggs decided that he wanted to gather his gear and go hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He knew that to be able to make long treks each day he was going to have to be in good shape. So he began running to get fit. He went to the Sierras and when he returned he concluded that since he was fit, he was going to stay that way, and he was going to keep running. He has yet to stop.

“Well, I plan on running as long as I can. I don’t have any plans of quitting,” he said. “As long as good health holds out, runners can continue running into their eighties.”

Briggs also has plans to become one of the world’s few streakers. “To clarify, for runners that run in 25 straight Boston Marathons, they become ‘streakers’ because of the streak of consecutive races run.”

Briggs also belongs to the Seven Continents Club. “Well, I am a proud member of this club. I have had the honor of running a marathon on every continent, including Antarctica.” He told of the long travels to King George Island to take part in the Antarctica Marathon, and in retrospect, described the run as difficult. “Toughest marathon that I have ever run. Gravel roads, mud, slush and glaciers made for tough conditions. It took me well over seven hours and I was completely spent.”

Currently, Briggs maintains his endurance by running different lengths such as five, ten and twenty miles. Nichols Hills and the Arcadia area provide for excellent, runner friendly territories.

According to Briggs, there are few negatives to long distance running. “Obviously it’s great exercise. It keeps your weight down. It raises High-density lipoprotein (HDL), protects against heart disease, diabetes and cholesterol. There are few negatives to running.”

Perhaps Briggs is the smartest of all the runners. Aside from staying fit, he has a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. And for good measure, “I make my own bread. You see I have had my own sourdough culture going for over thirty years. I love to make and eat bread.”

Briggs is the treasurer for the Oklahoma City Runners Club. He takes part in many local runs and also invites anyone curious about the OKC Running Club to log onto www.okcrunning.org. For the Edmond Running Club, log onto www.edmondrunningclub.com for more information.

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