In this April 21, 2014, file photo, runners compete in the 118th Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass. The 120th running of the historic footrace is scheduled for Monday, April 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Georgia runner competes in 39th Boston Marathon

Most runners want to run in the Boston Marathon at least one time, just to say they did it. It's one of the most prestigious running events in the world, and it's tough to qualify.

Mike Beeman of Tifton, Georgia is preparing to compete in his 39th Boston Marathon. He currently sits at number eight all time for most consecutive Boston Marathons.

"Competing in number 39 means that I have been blessed with good health, good genes and awesome support from family, friends and schools," Beeman says.

But what started this streak of 26.2's at one of the most respected races in the world?

Back in the 1970's, Beeman was a three sport high school athlete: basketball, track, and cross country. But like most aspiring young athletes, he had tried several other sports as well.

"I didn't like football because you got hit, so I chose cross country," Beeman said "I think that was a big career choice. With baseball, I was batting about 1.94 and pitching ball games losing 23 to 1. During my junior year, I switched over to track, and by my senior year, I was pretty good. I found out running was going to be good."

Beeman continued to participate in basketball, track, and cross country in college. Dave Gilbert, current director of the Boston Marathon, was a cross country teammate of Beeman at the time.

In 1977, Beeman traveled to Boston to support Gilbert who had been training to run his first Boston Marathon.

"I said, 'I will never watch this race again. I will be there next year. I'm going to qualify for the Boston,'" Beeman said.

Although he had just come out of a long basketball season, and hadn't really been training at all, Beeman managed to qualify for the Boston Marathon that same year in less than three hours.

Every April since then, Beeman has been in that city on a hill. At 25 consecutive years, Beeman was no longer required to qualify; however, he didn't realize that until after his 33rd Boston Marathon; therefore, he had qualified for every race until that point—that's impressive. But now, at a less competitive pace, Beeman is able to enjoy running, the training season, and even the 26.2-miler itself.

Beeman is a marketing teacher at Tift County High School. He recently began co-coaching the cross country team and is very involved in Tifton's running community and he is currently assisting other aspiring Boston runners to make the tough qualifying cut in the future.

"I am working with a couple of folks who are on the verge of making it, and that excites me greatly," Beeman says. "Giving back to the community is the bottom line and helping younger runners achieve their goals is my passion."

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