If you think getting your daily run done in the polar vortex is challenging, check this out: not only has Perry Romanowski, a 49-year-old self-employed former cosmetic chemist from Chicago, run every day since November 18, 2008 (that’s 3,727 days), but he juggles three bean bags throughout every single run.
“Today was a real challenge, but I got two miles in,” Romanowski told us yesterday, when the temperature in Chicago was a chilly -29 C. The minimum distance according to Streak Runners International, Inc. is one mile (1.6K), but he says his personal minimum is 1.5 miles. And for the last seven years, he has not joggled less than two miles (3.2K) every day.
Like all of us running outside in extreme cold, he wears numerous layers of clothing, including three pairs of gloves. He admits it’s challenging, but was happy only to have one beanbag drop during yesterday’s run.
Romanowski joggled his 19th Chicago Marathon in October 2018 (it was his 41st joggling marathon overall) and celebrated 10 years of daily joggling one month later.
Romanowski’s juggling object of choice is Gballz, round bean bags made for juggling, though he says lemons make a decent alternative. “People juggle tennis balls, but the problem is they bounce if they drop, and you have to chase them,” says Romanowski. “Lemons just sort of plop on the ground.”
Jogglers are subject to repetitive strain injuries of the hand and wrist. “When I did the 50-miler my hand started ‘squeaking’ whenever I moved it,” Romanowski told us. (Luckily it cleared up over the next couple of weeks of running shorter distances.) Like many other runners, he also suffers from occasional bouts of achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis.
As for records, Romanowski set the world record for the fastest 50 miles while juggling three objects (8:23:52) in 2007 at the Chicago Lakefront 50/50, but he says that record is now sub-8. “A good runner will eventually overtake all joggling records,” Romanowski explains.
Referring to his friend Michal Kapral of Toronto, who holds the half-marathon world records for joggling three objects, he says, “Someone like Michal who can run 2:30 without juggling, when you add the juggling piece it doesn’t slow you down that much, whereas I’m not that fast. It’s harder to become a faster runner than it is to become a good joggler.” (Romanowski’s non-joggling marathon personal best is 3:21.)
Regarding the number of objects juggled, he explains why three is ideal: “Juggling three objects is perfectly integrated with the running stride. Every time your foot hits the ground, a bean bag hits your opposite hand, so there’s a nice rhythmic timing there. If you look at someone who’s joggling and has done it for a long time, you almost can’t even tell that they’re juggling. It’s all one fluid motion. With five objects, the timing’s all off. It’s just more complicated.”
Romanowski plans to continue his joggling streak indefinitely. “Originally, I was going to run for 1,001 days,” he says. “But when I got to 1,001, I didn’t feel like stopping. Now, I’m shooting to go at least another 21,000 days. I have a goal to live to at least 107 and would like to set the marathon age record when I hit triple digits.”