10,000 days on the run for Saugus engineer

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Kip Williamson, just completed his 10,000th consecutive day of running.

BY GAYLA CAWLEY

SAUGUS — Most people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after a few months.

But Lenworth “Kip” Williamson has stuck to his for nearly three decades.

On Jan. 1, 1989, the 57-year-old Saugus resident  resolved to run daily that year. He was so successful that May 18 marked his 10,000 consecutive day running. His next milestone will be 30 years straight on Dec. 31, 2018.

The General Electric Co. engineering manager had tried unsuccessfully in 1987 and 1988 to run every day, but made it work on his third try. He remembers reading at the time that if you can do something for 21 days, it becomes a habit. He said 1989 was a mild winter, which helped him as he is an outdoor runner.

Williamson sticks to the streets, regardless of the weather. If he works out indoors, it’s for weight training and use of a stationary bike to supplement his primary exercise. Treadmills are not an option for him because he runs in every type of weather.

“I have two rules,” Williamson said. “I must run three or more miles on each run. And no excuses.”

With that goal, he considers a three-mile run a rest day. He mixes in at least one long run a week, which can range from six to eight miles. He jogs 30 or more miles weekly and at least 130 miles a month.

As of Sunday, he was at 99 miles for May. He doesn’t have a set schedule and runs the way he feels that particular day.

“It’s a good time to think,” Williamson said. “I guess I enjoy the endorphins and it’s just part of who I am at this point.”

He runs as early as 2 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. When his son got his Master’s degree at Columbia University last week, he got a run in at 2 a.m. before he and his wife caught a predawn train.

“There were nine cars moving, three coyotes and one guy riding a bicycle who I thought was crazier than me,” Williamson said.

He has always loved the sport. He ran track and cross country in high school and college. His most common events were the 800 meter and two-mile run. But he would do shorter runs if he needed to fill in for someone.

His racing days ended in 1999 when he ran his final Boston Marathon. He doesn’t want to run competitively anymore, saying the streak is enough for him. Not racing has enabled him to do what he is doing, as he avoids injury and doesn’t get sick, he added.

Today, Williamson said he knows his pace. If he’s in a strange place, he’ll run 20 minutes and run back, which he knows is more than three miles. He runs an eight and a half to nine minute mile. But his personal best is a four minute and 26 second one, when he was in peak shape in his youth.

He runs alone most of the time, going whenever he finds an opportunity. For that reason, he said it’s hard to run with people.

Williamson has his streak logged as part of the United States Running Streak Association. He doesn’t plan to stop.

“As long as my legs keep working, I’ll keep going,” Williamson said. “The thing that would get me to stop would be so catastrophic that the running would be insignificant compared to it.”


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