Tom Edwards has run around the globe twice, all from the comforts of home
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GYPSUM — At the equator, the distance around the earth is 24,901 miles. Since he took up running four decades ago, Tom Edwards, of Gypsum, has covered that distance twice.
“That is a pretty crazy feat, in my opinion,” said Gypsum Town Manger Jeff Shroll. “He has run 27,000 miles since moving to Gypsum about 20 years ago.”
Edwards’ accomplishment is testimony to both physical prowess and record-keeping consistency.
“I have a running calendar I fill out. My wife gives it to me for Christmas every year,” Edwards said. “At the end of the year, I add up all the miles I have.”
It’s an old-school method but provides effective documentation. At 75 years old, Edwards usually chalks up at least 1,000 running miles every year.
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“I like to feel physically fit, and after you run, it sort of clears your head,” Edwards said. “After running a few miles and drinking a cup of coffee, I feel like I can complete The New York Times crossword puzzle.”
Rose Bowl running
Edwards started running back in 1977.
“I was working for myself (as an architect), and I was working out of my home. I realized I wasn’t getting any exercise,” Edwards said.
He wasn’t a distance runner up to that point.
“When I was in high school, I thought when you did cross-country you ran and then you threw up. I wasn’t particularly interested in doing that,” he said.
He and his wife, Margaret, were living in Pasadena, California, at the time, and the Rose Bowl was located nearby. The couple decided they would start walking a three-mile lap around the site. Eventually walking became running, and eventually running turned into running marathons.
In 1978, Edwards’ sister — Joan Harned, of Gypsum — wrote him a letter about how their father was interested in running the Honolulu Marathon. Edwards decided to train for the event so he could run it with his father. He also ended up completing 10 Los Angeles Marathons before moving to Colorado 23 years ago.
“My goal was to run five miles per day when I was in California,” he said. But when he moved to Colorado, his goals changed. He is still an avid runner, but Edwards is an equally enthusiastic skier and hiker. Between these three interests, he gets plenty of exercise.
While Edwards isn’t chalking up 2,500-mile running years any longer, he is compiling some equally impressive stats. He averages 60 days of skiing annually, for example.
“For one two-year period, I either ran, skied or hiked a 14’er every day,” Edwards said. “Of course, you have to end those streaks at some point because you can’t keep a streak like that going on forever.”
While he religiously records his exercise activities, Edwards noted he doesn’t really do it to meet specific goals.
“I figure goals are kind of limiting,” he said. They are also fluid, he has discovered
“I am running longer than I used to because it takes me longer to do the same thing,” he said.
Inside, outside/alone and not
Edwards’ go-to daily run takes him to a trail that branches off Cottonwood Pass. His most frequent companion is his dog.
When weather conditions prevent him from running outside, he does laps inside at the Gypsum Recreation Center. His least favorite running option involves getting on a treadmill.
“To me, that is the most boring thing in the world. I hate it,” he said.
However, because he and Margaret took a trip to Nova Scotia this year, he did have to resort to in-place treadmill running to get in the last 10 miles to the 1,000-mile mark for 2017.
Edwards has been a long-time participant in the Vail Recreation District La Sportiva Trail Running Series. He enjoys the camaraderie among participants and the challenge of competing to finish in a certain amount of time.
“When I go to a race, I want to win, but I can’t because I can’t run as fast any more,” he said. “You really are competing against yourself, not someone else.”
With that said, Edwards has been successful in the series
“Because I am in the 70-plus group, I can usually finish overall in the money,” he said, flashing a grin. “Last year I only ran in five races and I ended up in second place in my group.”
His favorite race in the series is the Berry Picker — a 5K that covers singletrack and doubletrack terrain over 4.2 miles of uphill running with an average grade of 14 percent.
“A lot of people don’t like it because it’s so steep. I like it because it’s so short,” he said.
Along with running races, Edwards is also a race organizer. For years he has put together the Gypsum Daze 5K. He said that gig is pretty easy. He hunts down prizes for the run while the town advertises it and promotes it. On race day, he basically figures that participants know what to do, so he takes a light-touch approach.
His advice for prospective runners is equally light. He said back when his father started training for the Honolulu marathon, his doctor voiced a simple philosophy: “If your can’t run 10 miles, you are just running too fast,” Edwards quoted.
But because running makes him feel good, he hopes others discover the joy that happens when they start moving.
“If you can’t run and want to walk instead, fine. You aren’t going to walk yourself until you drop, and I see running as kind of the same thing.”