The weather can’t deter Mackenzie Stallmann from her daily run. Sickness either.
Many distance runners feel the same way, but Stallmann, 31, Washington, has taken her commitment a step further than most — or rather, years further.
She has run a minimum of 1 mile a day, and lately a 5K (3.1 miles) every day, for more than 1,932 days, or more than five years. And many days she runs much farther than that if she’s training for a marathon or ultramarathon.
David Stores, Washington, runs most days too, although he’s not a “streaker.” He takes days off here and there. As someone who has run many marathons, ultramarathons and timed distance runs, Stores is always looking for a new challenge or way to make his runs more purposeful.
This winter he challenged himself to run every street in Washington, which covers nearly 215 miles and 17,000 feet of gain, which is a reference to the number of hills that were included.
Both Stallmann and Stores are members of the Daily Run Club, which has a five-member board of directors but is really simply a Facebook page where runners can share or find information about local runs and races or connect with other runners. The group includes new runners who may have just taken up the sport to “ultra” runners like Stallmann and Stores.
But both of them are the first to acknowledge that they didn’t start out where they are today in terms of their running. It took repeated effort and commitment, but also some inspiration.
‘The Streets of Washington’
Stores began running in high school and participated on the cross-country team at Principia High School in St. Louis.
He joined the staff at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School in 2003, where he became the assistant coach both for the school’s cross country and track teams. Training with the teams lead him to run his first marathon in 2006 in St. Louis.
But it was a couple of Borgia runners on the team in 2006 who inspired Stores to take his running to the next level. Brian Holdmeyer and Andrew Tobben were fast, Stores said, noting they still hold the school record for the fastest 1-mile and 2-mile runs respectively.
In pushing himself to run more, Stores met members of the St. Louis Ultrarunning Group (SLUG) while he was out for a trail run one day, and that connection encouraged him to keep moving forward.
“That’s where I got hooked into ultramarathons,” said Stores, noting he has since completed about 40 of them.
Ultramarathons are any run that is longer than a traditional marathon (26.2 miles), but typically refers to 50K (31 miles) to 100K (62 mile) races or timed distance runs of 12 to 24 hours.
“I’m just always looking for new goals,” said Stores. “I was inspired to do this (run all the streets of Washington) by a runner, Ricky Gates, who ran recently every street in San Francisco. That was 13,000 miles.”
Washington was far less miles, but it was just something fun to add to his running resumé, said Stores. He began by getting a map from the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce to plot out his routes and then marking off every street after a run. He also used an app that had a “heat map” showing every street he ran.
Between Dec. 13 and Feb. 13, Stores ran down every street within the Washington city limits, including every alleyway. At the shopping centers, some of the roads aren’t really official roads, but if there was a street sign, he would run it. There were at least 20 miles where he reran a street because the route required it.
Stores didn’t run for this challenge every day. On the days that Stores worked on his “Streets of Washington” run, he ran anywhere from 8 to 30 miles at a time. Most days were around 10 to 12 miles, he said.
The days he wasn’t running the streets of Washington, he was often training for his next running challenge — running the entire 230-mile Ozark Trail, the longest hiking trail in Missouri and very hilly. He and a friend plan to do that in May just after school is out for the summer.
“Runners are typically goal oriented, so we are always looking for a new challenge to keep it interesting and meaningful,” said Stores.
Last year over spring break, he and a friend ran the full length of the Katy Trail, 240 miles, in a span of 90 hours, which is three full days and 18 hours. They would take occasional breaks to nap between 20 to 40 minutes along the side of the trail.
They pushed a jogging stroller filled with gear and supplies, like extra food and water. They would try to eat at a diner or restaurant, if there was one near the trail, but otherwise they ate what they had on hand.
For runners like Stores, who are addicted to the sport, there is never a day that isn’t good for running, regardless of weather or temperature.
“I like it all,” he remarked. “I don’t think of myself as a gifted runner, but as someone who loves to run and uses that as an excuse to be outside. That time is meditative, and it gives a sense of balance, a sense of accomplishment too.”
When Stores runs, he uses a GPS watch to track his route, distance and speed, but he never brings along any music or anything to listen to. He prefers to tune in the surroundings.
“Trail runs are my favorite, but open road is fun too,” he said. “We are always looking for adventures.”
A couple of weeks ago, Stores and a friend ran across the Highway 47 bridge, along Augusta Bottom Road to get onto the Katy Trail and then up to McKittrick and Hermann, where they boarded the train back to Washington.
“The idea was to cross Warren County,” he said. “We’ve crossed Franklin County a couple of times, from north to south, east to west. We just look for ways to make a run a little more purposeful. If you’re going to run 30 or 40 miles, what can we do to make it interesting?”
Part of what made his “Streets of Washington” run so interesting to him was that it took him to areas of town he’d never been to before, even after more than 15 years of living here.
“There’s many neighborhoods I’d never been in before, so it was a way to get to know the area you live in,” he said.
5K a Day
The health benefits of running are a big part of what motivates Stallmann to keep her daily running streak alive, but even more motivating is the social aspect of the sport.
“There’s nothing I love more than just running with other people and my friends,” she said. “I have a group of three other girls who meet almost seven days a week in the morning to run. And there’s a Union group that I go to most Tuesday nights, and Wednesday nights we do Workout Wednesdays, so I get that high from being able to run and being with some of my closest friends.”
A 2006 graduate of Union High School, Stallmann didn’t take up running until 2011 as a way to lose weight. She dropped about 100 pounds by working out at a gym and running. She ran her first race then in October 2011.
Joining the DRC inspired her to start her running streak.
The club began in 2013 as a challenge on Facebook to get people to run every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, a time when it’s easy to stay indoors and be more sedentary. Stallmann began her streak that Thanksgiving Day and hasn’t missed a day since.
The length of her daily runs has varied, but it has always been at least 1 mile and for the past couple of years she has done at least a 5K each day. Some days she goes farther, if she’s training for an upcoming run.
“I’ve trained for several half marathons, full marathons, at least two ultramarathons within the past couple of years,” said Stallmann.
Her daily runs aren’t necessarily at the same time each day. She tries to do them in the morning, as often as possible, just so she doesn’t have to work around any other activities that come up throughout the day.
“I’d rather get up at 5 a.m. and run so I know that I’ve done it rather than have to fit it in at the end of the day,” she said.
Stallmann has been lucky enough to be healthy for the duration of her running streak. The sickest she has been over the last five years was a stomach bug she had once overnight. But that didn’t stop her from running in a race the next morning.
And at this point, she feels like she could push herself to run at least 1 mile through most illnesses, just to keep the streak alive. Her average 1-mile pace is about 9:30.
Typically the only weather that will force her indoors to run on her treadmill is a downpour. She has run in the rain and in the snow. She draws the line at either after dark, however, because an injury is the biggest threat to her streak at this point. She’s seen it happen to other “streakers.”
“I’m always somewhat cautious when I run. I probably don’t do as much preventative stuff as I should, so I’m trying to get better at that,” said Stallmann. “I just think I’ve been very lucky.”
Looking ahead, Stallmann wants to keep her streak going as long as possible. In the running world, there are some “streakers” who have been going for 30 years or more, she said.
“I always told myself if it wasn’t fun, I would stop doing it, but I still very much enjoy it,” she said. “I’ll keep doing this until it stops being fun or something else forces me to stop.”
Stallmann, who works at a desk all day long (she recently began using a stand-up desk), said running is a great way to make sure she gets enough healthy movement in her day.
“I do wish I had started running earlier because it does make me feel a lot better,” she said. “I always tried to be a positive person, but now the high you get from exercise and running, it’s just an amazing feeling. I would suggest anyone who is thinking about running, just try it. You may hate it the first day, but you may love it two weeks later.”
The Daily Run Club
The Daily Run Club was started in fall 2013 by David Beaty as a way to encourage a small group of Washington and Union residents to be more active over the holidays. Today there are around 1,200 followers on the DRC Facebook page, said Meghan McCarrick, Washington, one of the group’s five board members.
There is a wide variety of runners in the DRC, from people who are posting that it is their first day running to people training for ultramarathons. Most of the followers live in Washington and Union, but there are runners from as far away as Sullivan and St. Louis.
“It’s basically a message board to be able to keep in touch with what’s going on, because there are several run clubs in the area. Some are very specific if they are trail runs or training for a marathon. This is just a good place to trade information about what races are coming up,” said McCarrick.
“A lot of other groups don’t allow you to post your personal information about what you ran or how you felt about it, but this page allows that. We want people to do that, because a lot of times that can be the incentive for somebody else to get out the door.
“There’s a lot of motivation that happens within the group,” McCarrick said. “If somebody gets on (the Facebook page) and says, ‘I don’t feel like running in this weather,’ and then two other people get on and say, ‘I already did; it’s not that bad really.’ That can be really helpful.”
The DRC has several regular activities for runners, including a weekly Workout Wednesday that is catered to distance training. The group meets every Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. at the Washington riverfront parking lot.
Another group meets for a run every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. in Union. Check the Facebook page for those details.
And there is a monthly Third Thursday social run that begins at 6:15 p.m. at the Washington riverfront parking lot. The group runs a 5-mile loop around town, stopping every 1 1/4 miles.
“That’s one that really anybody can jump in at any point or cut the route short,” said McCarrick. “It’s a really easy, casual pace run, and then we all go to a local restaurant afterward.”
Typically around 30 to 40 people show up for the Third Thursday runs, McCarrick noted.
“So you can get the race-type atmosphere without any competition or pressure,” she remarked.
The DRC will sponsor two upcoming runs:
• Third Annual LX3 at Lions Lake, Saturday, April 27.
This will be a timed distance run that offers runners the option of a six-hour or 12-hour run on the .07-mile paved path around Lions Lake in Washington.
Runners run the path on a continuous loop for six or 12 hours, which is a version of an ultramarathon because of the distances runners will go in that time frame. For the six-hour run, many runners are trying to get at least 30 miles in, and for the 12-hour run they often want to reach 50 miles or more, said McCarrick.
“When you’re out there, there are constantly distractions to keep it interesting,” she said. “There constantly someone to talk to on the run, it makes the time go by fast.
“This is something for people who are looking for a challenge from an endurance perspective.”
An aid station is set up under one of the pavilions to help keep runners going.
• Katy Trail 50/50 beginning at the Dutzow Trailhead, Saturday, Sept. 7.
There will be three distances for runners to choose from — 50K (31 miles), 50 miles or 100K (62 miles).
For more information or to register for either run, go to www.ultrasignup.com.