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My first run: WJR reader Jim Clanton

My first run: WJR reader Jim ClantonWe all remember our first. 

Our first run, that is.

We recently asked our readers to share stories from the first time they laced up their sneaks and hit the streets  (or treadmill or trails). Below Jim Clanton from Spoken, Wash. shares his story. Want to submit yours? Email us!

Back in 1979, running was just beginning its ascendency as a sport for the masses.

Here in Spokane Wash. theOlympic marathoner and native son Don Kardong founded an 8-mile, late spring race called Bloomsday a few year earlier in 1976. In 1979, the race was expected to draw nearly 8,000 runners. At that time, I was an overweight, out-of-shape, 30-year-old smoker and heavy drinker badly in need of a change of lifestyle.

So, I bought a pair of Converse sneakers, laced them up, and began running, mostly alone.

My first run was a loop around Riverfront Park and the first half mile nearly killed me.

Over time, I was able to get into good enough shape to finish the entire eight miles without stopping, not even on doomsday hill. I don’t remember my time – but it was respectable given where I had started three months earlier.

A bit like Forrest Gump, I just kept running. Now, 36 years, 28 marathons, and 55,000+ total running miles later, I am still at it.

Bloomsday grew to be the the largest timed road run in America for several years in the 80s, topping out at 60,000+ runners. It is still being run and will get 45K participants (including me!) this year.

Ed note: Clanton submitted this photo after this year’s Bloomsday race, which was held May 3, 2015.

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