Cary man runs around the world, sort of

aspecht@newsobserver.comOctober 18, 2013 

— You could say Dick Reaves has run around the world.

Reaves, 64, first started running in March 1985 at the annual Cary Road Race.

“I was nervous,” Reaves recalled recently. “I couldn’t sleep the night before.”

Twenty-eight years, a knee surgery and 282 races later, Reaves has run 24,901 miles – equal to the circumference of the earth.

He crossed the invisible finish line on Sept. 30 at Tir Na Nog pub in Raleigh after running three miles around the captial city, stopping only to take a photo in front of the globe at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

“Other people have probably run farther than me, but I’ve kept track of it,” Reaves said.

He knows how far he’s gone because his passion for running is matched only by his obsession with record-keeping.

“He does like a list,” said his daughter, Kelly Reaves. “He has a journal of everything he’s done in the day. … There’s also a place where he keeps all the books that he’s read.”

A retired civil engineer with the Department of Transportation, Reaves keeps meticulous running notes in old Mead notebooks and in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

He’s logged the time, date and distance of every race and casual run since 1985. His journal includes 19 marathons – in Boston, New York, Chicago, Ireland and more – 45 half-marathons, 136 5Ks and countless runs around Cary.

Reaves says he didn’t aspire to “run around the world” until 2009, when he finally sat down and added up his total distance traveled.

“This is what my kids call my ‘Forrest Gump map,’” he said, pulling a road map of the United States out of a folder. Reaves has highlighted major highways in yellow and green ink to show distances he’s run in different years.

“When I added it all up, I realized I was about right here,” he said, pointing to a spot on Interstate 70 in eastern Utah.

He ran two marathons in 2010 – the Shamrock in Virginia Beach, Va., and the Boston Marathon – and has run between 50 and 70 miles per month since then.

The Shamrock is nostalgic for Reaves because it was his first marathon years ago. His wife, Sheila, thought the 1987 race would be his last. So after the event, she cut Reaves’ shoe in half, mounted it and framed it on their wall.

“He was so proud, and exhausted, I thought that (marathon) would be it,” she said, shaking her head in amazement.

Reaves’ favorite races were those where he pushed strollers with handicapped children. But he considers his first marathon, his personal best marathon time of 3 hours, 12 minutes and “running around the world” his best feats.

And although he admits he’s slowing down, he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. In fact, Reaves hopes to run the Boston Marathon in 2020 – when he’s 70.

“We’ll see when we get there,” he said. “Hopefully, I can keep it together until then.”

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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