By Lynn Colburn
Almost every day, somewhere in Jacksonville, you can find Dave McCollum running. For 42 consecutive years he has logged his miles, he consistantly runs 1000 to 2000 miles each year. McCollum says he has been running longer than that, but he didn’t keep logs during his earlier running years. As of December 31, 2017, he has logged in 44,714 miles. Last year alone he ran a total of 1305 miles.
“My goal is to run around the world, or exceed that in miles, twice! That would equal 49,800 miles,” McCollum states.
Every run might not be thrilling, but runners are adept at keeping things interesting. McCollum does not run with music. He says, “Ninety percent of the time I run in the morning and just get my thoughts together for the day.” He has even been know to run through the Illinois College campus and pick up trash and throw it away on his run too.
Running on a regular basis the way McCollum is doing is a wonderful way to stay healthy. According to a 2015 Mayo Clinic article Running is Good, Moving is Great by Deborah Blazer, running is good for the heart and six miles a week may be the magic goal number. Experts found running about six miles a week — or 52 minutes — may add from three to six years to your life.
McCollum started running in high school to stay in shape for football. “Back then I ran the mile. My coach was Dan Moy. Since then, Dan and I have been active in designing and timing races in Jacksonville and the surrounding area for years. And Dan, Kevin Eckhoff and I also continue to try to promote running in Jacksonville whenever we can.”
McCollum says one of his favorite running memories is “running with a small group and the great Bill Rodgers in Jacksonville while he was in town to talk and run the Passavant 5K and 10K Run.” William Henry “Bill” Rodgers is an American long-distance runner and former American record holder in the marathon who is best known for his four victories in the Boston Marathon, including three straight 1978-1980 and the New York City Marathon between 1976 and 1980.
Experts say running can also regulate weight, increase stamina, ward off viral illnesses, strengthen you heart, boost your mood, keep muscles strong and help with mobility as you get older and studies have shown people who participate in regular aerobic exercise live longer than those who don’t exercise regularly. Fitness Basics: Running for Your Life by Barbara Russi Sarnataro mentions, “The advantage to running is it doesn’t take any equipment except shoes, you can do it anywhere, and it’s convenient. It’s one of the best cardio-respiratory activities you can do.”
The most important gear to McCollum are running shoes. He changes shoes every 250-300 miles. He says when certain muscles start hurting he knows it’s time to change shoes. “I go through about five to six pairs of shoes per year, and always looks for bargains when I’m replacing them,” explains McCollum.
The motivation for this 64-year-old to continue to run is health and friendships. He is a member of The Cutting Edge, a running club in Jacksonville. “The Cutting Edge has about 10 to 20 members. Years ago we even had coats made with the club logo on them,” says McCollum. He still runs with The Cutting Edge members John Grey and Randy Goben every Tuesday morning. “We also bike in the summer months every Wednesday night.” The best part of those running friendships are they are filled with laughs.
So far during his running career, McCollum has completed in 22 marathons; more than 20 Bix 7-Mile Races in Davenport, Iowa; and three triathlons; in addition to numerous half-marathons, 10K’s (6.2 mile), 5 K’s (3.1 miles).
McCollum was a founding team member of The Illinois Valley Relay. “This event was a six-member 62-mile course through Scott and Greene counties during the fall colors of October and we have put on the event for six years.”
His best times include: Best Marathon – the 1982 marathon in St. Louis in 3:18. (He says Julie Caldwell of Jacksonville placed 3rd that year in the same race.) Best 10K – 39:15. Best 5K – 18:10.
McCollum has also competed in team relays including: the Lincoln in Lincoln Relay, a 6-member 60-mile course in Springfield with both the 1st Bank of Illinois running team and with The Cutting Edge team; the St. Louis Marathon Relay, and numerous River to River Relay with The Cutting Edge team (an 8-member team in an 80-mile course in April which begins in the Mississippi River valley along the Ohio River). One of his memories of the River to River race is of switching team shirts with then Governor Rob Blagojevich.
“The Cutting Edge group are all people I enjoy and run with on a regular basis like Dan, Jeff Coultas, Randy and John.” On New Year’s Day The Cutting Edge has its own Marathon (26.2 miles). “We start our fitness watches and stop them for breaks. No one tries to break any records. It just fun getting together and afterwards we drink beer and fry a turkey,” says McCollum. And, most recently, the group got together for the Super Bowl LII game.
McCollum says he doesn’t really do any warm ups before running. He uses the first mile as his warm-up. He says he also changes pace during his runs and kind of plays games. For instance, he will go from telephone pole to telephone pole and will speed up between. He also runs the hill by Illinois College, where he sprints uphill and jogs down.
Although he says he has been fortunate not to have any serious injuries to have to stop running, he says his knees and back have survived due to working out on an exercise ball. However, he did mention he has done all this despite a herniated disk. And he says he once fell off a flagpole, but was running again just 2 ½ weeks later. He also remembers the danger of some high schoolers who once ran him off the road when he was running. He visited the high school later to talk with the students. To stay safe McCollum tries to stay on the sidewalks and, if he can’t, he carefully watches for cars.
Outside is the place McCollum chooses to run, in all types of weather (wind, cold, rain, hot and darkness), although he says he is more careful now than he was when he was younger. There were only 45 days last year that he didn’t run. He just gears up in winter equipment when running now, and more summer-oriented gear in the heat. He says he has only run on a treadmill about five times in his life.
Experts agree when you’re outdoors, “you’re getting fresh air and when running during the sunlight you get vitamin D.” And of course, whether your home or traveling, it’s a fantastic way to see a city.
Of course McCollum is still racing. He says the first application came out last Saturday (Feb. 3) for the Bix 7 Road Race the 7-mile road race held in late July in the streets of downtown Davenport, often run by 12,000-18,000 runners. He also plans to run as usual in the Passavant race in Jacksonville which is scheduled for May 26.
McCollum proves by example that consistent physical activity is great for you. When he was the health department with his granddaughter recently he filled out a survey. One of the questions was what you consider to biggest health issue? He said obesity and lack of physical activity were the big ones he mentioned.
We will be watching the sidewalks and road in Jacksonville as McCollum zeros in on his goal of running around the world twice. Keep it up one run at a time!