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Streaking in Texas
by Ken Johnson

(Note: This article appeared in the May/June 2002 issue of Inside Texas Running.  It is updated here through November 22, 2002.)

As most of you know, streaking back in the 70’s meant that you ran across a stage, ball field or some other public place in your birthday suit.  While this fad passed, there is a new fad among some runners – streak running.  This means that you run every day without missing a day.   Some runners have been streaking for years, but only in the last couple of years has streak running taken on a life of its own.
Thanks to the effort of a dedicated group of streak runners on the east coast, the United States Running Streak Association (USRSA) was formed in November 2000.  The USRSA initially published a list of 128 streakers.  However, early in 2002, it was discovered that some on the list had not run at least a mile on each day, which had always been understood to be the standard.  By majority vote of those on the list, it was decided that to maintain a streak you have to run at least one mile each day under your own body power, without the use of any type of health or mechanical aid other than prosthetic devices.  Based on written statements from each streaker attesting that they met this criteria, the USRSA published a new list in March 2000 with 86 streakers.  The current list has 90 streakers.  While any streaker can join the USRSA, they cannot get on the list until their streak is at least one year long.

The longest streak in the United States belongs to Bob Ray, 65, of Baltimore Maryland.  He started his streak on April 4, 1967 (35 + years ago).  Seven other runners also have a streak over 30 years.  The longest streak in Texas belongs to Walter Byerly, 72, of Dallas.  His steak started on November 5, 1974, over 28 years ago.  The longest female runner streak belongs to Margaret Blackstock, 58, of Atlanta, Georgia, who started her streak on September 9, 1979.
Streakers are grouped in five-year increments by the length of their streak.  These range from the “Masters” (30+ years) down to the “Neophytes” (less than 5 years), like myself.   Here are the 8 Texas runners on the list, starting with the place number on the national list.

Texas Streakers

Start Date
9 Walter Byerly 11/05/74 Dallas 72
16 William R. Anderson 9/27/76 Ft. Worth 57
47 Roger H. Nelson 8/01/81 Colleyville 52
61 Ronnie Shaw 1/01/86 Arlington 48
80 Ken Johnson 12/30/97 Huntsville 61
84 Ronald K. Kallinen 1/24/99 Katy 55
88 Susan L. Jones 1/01/01 Boys Ranch 38
90 Mark K. Hall 5/17/01 Dallas 44

Why do people run everyday?   I never heard a doctor recommend such a thing.  Most reasonable people will tell you that you should rest at least a couple days a week.  I cannot speak for other streakers, but I do it because it forces me to run on a “regular basis.”  I hate to run and streaking forces me to overcome all the reasons (excuses) I used for skipping days.  Now, if I skip a day it would be like smoking another cigarette after quitting so many years ago.   I would be hooked again and would go back to my old ways of skipping too many days.  Streaking is like going “cold turkey.”  You build up increments of time.  The more time you build, the more motivated you are to keep it going.

I have never been to a streaker convention or had much interaction with other streakers.  However, from what I have read in the USRSA newsletters and on the Internet, most streakers are just addicted to running and are probably half nuts.  There are stories galore about streakers running under unusual circumstances.  One even ran a mile in the hospital on the same day he had prostate surgery.   That’s determination!  While on most days it is easy to get in a run, there are days when you have inflamed feet or knees, a fever or other physical problems.  Then, there are days that it is almost impossible to find time to run.  The worst are the days when you have a mental block against running and you just do not want to run.  Obviously, besides building in motivation to run on a consistent basis, there are other benefits to running everyday.  I have found that streak running builds strength and endurance for those late miles in the marathon or ultra-marathon.   I am also convinced that the daily exposure to the elements builds resistance to the flu and other ailments.

If this article motivates you to start you own streak, join the United States Running Streak Association, get your lower extremity surgeries out of the way and then consult with your doctor (psychiatrist type).

UPDATE:  On December 15, 2002, the day after running the Sunmart 50K Trail Run and two weeks short of a 5-year streak, Ken had an emergency appendectomy.  After surgery and recovery, he started a new streak on December 28, 2002.  That streak is still going, but he is at the bottom of the national streak list. 





Updated: 04/10/2004