Into the fourth decade of a runner’s high

By David Esteppe

On Dec. 26, Ronceverte’s Dan Withrow took to the Greenbrier River Trail in Caldwell to do what he has done every day for an incredible stretch of time. On this day, he celebrated 31 years of running on a daily basis.

To put a perspective on this, Withrow described his estimate of over 11,000 consecutive days of running, and the covering of over 50,000 miles during this process. He has logs of the runs, but doesn’t have the exact figure at press time, but these numbers are remarkable for any avid fan of the sport.

The 62-year-old runner has a Master’s of Science degree in Exercise Physiology and explained that he is passionate about running, but actually loves cycling more.

He says, “running is simply much more convenient to do every day, because all you need is a pair of shoes and sometimes not even that. Theoretically, you can run in place in a closet if you had to.”

Withrow has run in over 30 different states, in every kind of weather and at every time of day and night.

He has been running consistently for almost 40 years after joining in the training for a 15 miler with a friend in 1976. After that initial road race, Withrow says he claimed he’d never run again. The experience was tough, and he felt terrible afterwards. However, the friend talked him into trying a 10 miler shortly after that. Again, Withrow thought he was done with the running after that race. Jovially, he said he felt even worse after the 10 miler.

Over the years since those first two races, Withrow has done a few other road races, but prefers the solitude of running recreationally by himself. He has a few favorite notable runs around the country, as he says the best places to run are on trails that he finds in most locales. To name one more memorably nice venues, he mentions the Baltimore Harbor as a favorite. But hands down, Withrow says, “The Greenbrier River Trail is absolutely my most favorite place to run. It is beautiful, and to this day you still can pretty much have the trail to yourself as a runner or cycler on most days.”

Withrow explained that he graduated from Greenbrier East High School (GEHS), and that cross country at that time was actually only a conditioning project for the boy’s basketball team. He wouldn’t take up running until after college. He did however return to GEHS as a cross country coach from 2004-2008. He has former runners from the coaching days who keep in touch with him. He calls it a success if one of his former runners lets him know that they are still running 10 years later. He spoke of the first team he coached as having only one girl. Recently the girl contacted him to let him know she was running in a marathon in Richmond,VA. Withrow drove to Richmond and ran the last two miles of that marathon with his former student athlete. He said he told her she was his biggest coaching success story after that.

Withrow is often asked why he is doing this daily running after all these years. He says firstly, “I am very fortunate and grateful to have my health, and to have not suffered injuries over the years.” Then he said, “I just happened to have 95 days in a row of running back then, so I decided to shoot for 100.” And the rest leads to today, tomorrow and the next.

 

With friends and family, Dan Withrow, fifth from the left, embarking on his 31st anniversary of daily running. He began this day’s run on the Greenbrier River Trail from its Caldwell entrance.
With friends and family, Dan Withrow, fifth from the left, embarking on his 31st anniversary of daily running. He began this day’s run on the Greenbrier River Trail from its Caldwell entrance.

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