Marietta man on a streak with more than 1,000 10K runs

Pandemic inspired him to set personal running record

Marietta’s Larry Guzy didn’t lose his commitment to daily exercise when COVID-19 forced his local gym to close. He stepped it up – running the equivalent of a 10K race for 1,000 consecutive days and counting.

“There wasn’t anything else to do, so why not run?” the 75-year-old retired owner of an independent insurance claims adjustment company, said. “I didn’t actually realize I was running a 10K a day for almost a year. Then I said: ‘Oh my, let’s just keep it up.”

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Nothing deters Guzy. Not rain. Not freezing temperatures. Not fabulous vacations to faraway places, including Sydney, London, Budapest and an extinct volcano in the South Pacific.

He will run in the afternoons if he absolutely has to, but he prefers to be out in the quiet of the early morning, around 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.

“Before breakfast, you know you’ve already accomplished something,” Guzy said. “It just feels good.”

On Dec. 12, he reached the milestone of running 1,000 consecutive days. He also clocked 6,387 miles, slightly more than the average 10K of 6.2 miles, and retired about 16 pairs of shoes.

Karin Guzy, his wife of 53 years, put up congratulatory signs along the route she expected him to take that morning. But he didn’t see them until the next day. He varies his route to keep it interesting.

During a visit to rural New Zealand, he ran next to a farmer’s field. He had company. A herd of cows ran with him until they reached the end of the pasture and were out of running room. In Paris, he showed just how committed he is. He got up extra early so he could do his run and be ready to make his tour bus departure at 6:15 a.m.

But Guzy didn’t just jump out of bed on St. Patrick’s Day 2020, and start running. He had been running three to four days a week as part of an overall fitness routine, in which he alternated running one day and going to the gym for strength training the next.

“When the gym closed, I knew I had to do something,” he said.

Guzy wasn’t the only person to commit to streak running during the pandemic. The United States Running Streak Association/Streak Runners International, which tracks records set by its members, saw a 60% jump between 2020 and 2021 in its members who ran 365 straight days, said Mark Washburne, the association’s president.

The longest streak in the world is held by Jon Sutherland from Utah, who has been running every day since May 26, 1969. Richard Westbrook, a local runner from Jonesboro, holds the fifth-longest active world streak. According to the association’s data, Westbrook, a longtime coach, starts his 50th year of streak running this year.

Guzy said he’s in awe of the records, such as Sutherland’s, and only hopes to continue running daily as long as possible.

He said he’s in good shape and has no complaints about knee problems.

“I don’t feel 75,” Guzy said. “It’s a surprise how old I am.”

He will slow down to a fast walk when he needs a quick break and a stretch to ease the pain from his pinched sciatic nerve. Some days he can’t go as far as he’d like, such as when he caught COVID-19 in July. But he will push himself a little harder as soon as he can to make up the difference.

He receives the occasional Attaboy from neighbors and others who’ve seen him running in Cobb County.

Ever the observer, Guzy stops on his runs to pick up coins he spots in parking lots. In a year, he collected $10.54, his wife Karin said.

“I am very proud of him, of course,” she said. “And all his running takes place before I get out of bed, which is OK with me.”

Guzy said he gets great personal satisfaction from his daily, long-distance runs.

“You don’t do it for anybody else. You do it for yourself,” he said. “And you know in your heart, it’s a really good thing to do.”