Mark Sherbow hasn’t missed a day of running in over 12,600 days, but hip replacement surgery looms; he plans to get back to it, though
By Lee Juillerat for Ashland.news
It’s been 34 years, nine months and 24 days since Mark Sherbow had missed a day of running at least a mile.
But, because he’s facing upcoming hip replacement surgery and a trip to Europe, the 64-year-old Sherbow will close out his 12,681-day running streak Sunday with family and friends at Ashland’s Lithia Park.
It was Jan. 3, 1989, when the Ashland school teacher began his streak. While visiting Australia for a year he set personal goals of running a mile or more and swimming in the ocean every day. Getting in the swims sometimes proved problematic. “Swimming over the winter was challenging, but running was easy,” Sherbow said. “With running, you put on a pair of shoes and go.”
Go he did. After his extended stay in Australia, daily runs became routine. “After 10 years, or whatever or whenever, it just became part of my repertoire. You wake up in the morning and go.”
The streak has included more than 69 long-distances races — 26.2-mile marathons along with ultra-marathons of 50 kilometers and 50 miles. He’s posted a best time of 2 hours, 50 minutes and 12 seconds in the marathon, one of the nine times he’s completed the distance under three hours.
“Through sickness and health, through many time zones and world travels, the streak has continued,” Sherbow said, noting that some of his memories include running across the Grand Canyon, “mega miles” on the Pacific Crest Trail, and the 42-mile long Rogue River Trail.
Most of his running has been in or near Ashland, his home since 1982. Asked why he selected Ashland, he ticks off three reasons: mountains, ocean and community — explaining, “I’m just really grateful to so many people in the community who support running and runners.”
His years in Ashland have been spent teaching, everything from kindergarten through high school. Sherbow still works for the Ashland School District on a part-time basis.
Indications that his running streak could soon end manifested earlier this year while Sherbow was telemark skiing.
“In late May after a record ski season of 60-plus days, I began my annual training for the Mount Ashland Hill Climb,” he wrote about his soon-to-end running streak. “When running down the mountain, I noticed an intense discomfort in my right hip, and within two weeks the discomfort became serious pain. I have continued my mile run through the last months, but with hip replacement fast approaching” after Sunday, Oct. 1, “the streak of 12,681 will be suspended.”
It’s been a streak that’s involved family and friends. He thanks several people for supporting him, including his son, Toby, who wasn’t born until after Sherbow began his daily runs. “Toby, my son, is a rock star and he helped me see what is important — the journey … so many great adventures.” He also praises his partner, Arlene “for giving the love and support to run, even when it was cold.”
Also appreciated is Sherbow’s running friend — “Thank you Ben Benjamin — so much inspiration, so many epic runs.”
Among Sherbow’s many memories is a time several years ago when it appeared the streak would end. Suffering from Norwalk virus, a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, he was “feeling really awful” when he was roused out of bed by running friends from the Hash House Harriers, who entered his house and “got me out of bed, and I ran my mile.”
Another memory includes one of his climbs on Mount Rainier. Because he and his group were camped near a glacier, they slept wearing harnesses. Sherbow got in his mile by running, while harnessed, up and down the 60-foot length of rope in climbing boots. Other challenges have included getting in runs when traveling overseas to different time zones.
Sherbow also figured out ways to run the day after a marathon or ultra-marathon. As he explains, “Whenever I did a super-long run, I had to run downhill the next day.”
For his streak-ending run on Sunday, Sherbow plans to meet with friends at Lithia Park in the late afternoon, walk a mile-plus up to the reservoir, jog/run back to the park and then celebrate with “pizza and cheer” at Creekside Pizza about 5:15 p.m.
He had hoped to keep the streak going longer — “I’m a little sad,” he admits — but Sherbow insists he’ll resume running and skiing after recovering from the surgery.
The streak is ending, but not the running and skiing, activities he insists he’ll resume.
“I’m a little sad,” Sherbow admits, quickly adding, “But I’m hopeful. I’ve got a lot left.”
Email freelance writer Lee Juillerat at firstname.lastname@example.org.