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Rick Rayman celebrates 40-year run streak

Today marks 40 years of running every day for the Toronto dentistry professor

This morning in Toronto, Rick Rayman, 72, marked 40 years of running every day. He celebrated with his friend Steve DeBoer, 64, of Rochester, Minn., who travelled to Toronto to mark the occasion with him, with–what else?–a short run.

RELATED: Longest known run streak comes to an end after 52 years

Both men occupy high positions on the Streak Runners International site–Rayman is #2 on the international list, and DeBoer, 64, who has a 47.5-year streak going, is #3 on the US list. (Rayman is considerably ahead of the next person on the international list, Tyler Brett Forkes, who is also Canadian, and whose streak is at 27.9 years.)

Rayman’s streak began in 1978, but not with any real intention behind it. Then his friend Brian Williams, at the time a sportscaster with CBC television, commented on the air one evening that his friend Rick Rayman had run every day for 278 days. “That’s what made me think, why don’t I keep going?” says Rayman, who is Director of Student Life at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry, and still teaches three days a week. 

Rick Rayman (right) celebrates his 40 year run streak in Toronto with Steve DeBoer on December 10, 2018. Photo: courtesy of Rick Rayman

So what constitutes a streak? How far do you actually have to run every day for it to count? According to the streak site, the answer is one mile. Rayman’s personal standard slightly higher: 30 minutes minimum. But he often runs for an hour or more, and longer on weekends.

More impressive than that is the fact that he has run every edition of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which celebrated 29 years this year–and that was Rayman’s 365th marathon. (And his 13th in 2018 alone.) “I remember when there were only 600 runners, and it finished at the Flatiron building,” says Rayman. He’s planning his next marathon, the Miami Marathon, on January 17.

Rayman finishing this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (his 365th marathon). Photo: Marathon Photo

It turns out that streakers are quite competitive with one another. For example, Rayman commented that DeBoer has “only” run 65 marathons. He also told us about Robert R. Kraft, #6 on the US streak list, who runs eight miles (about 13K) on the beach every day in Miami at 5:00 p.m. “His nickname is Raven. People come from all over to run with him, and if you complete the run, he gives you a nickname and sells you a T-shirt. He’s always at the Miami Marathon, and I always stop to talk to him, but he refuses to ever run a marathon–says he’ll never pay to run,” says Rayman. “I even offered to pay his registration fee, and he still won’t run a marathon. He hates me, because somebody told him once that I took two days off. It’s not true, but he still hates me.”

Rick Rayman. Photo: Maxine Gravina

When asked how he avoided being so sick or injured that he could not run, he told us he often ran injured back in his younger days, when he was running sub-three-hour marathons (“a lifetime ago,” he says). Two years ago he ran very slowly with debilitating knee pain, which was eventually diagnosed as a torn medial meniscus. One day he got dressed to run, but his knee hurt so badly, he told his wife he didn’t think he could do it. “She told me, you’re already dressed–just go do it! So I did.” The MRI revealed the tear was already healing, so the doctor told him to keep running.

Rayman tells us that many streakers plan when to end their streaks, so they aren’t forced to stop due to injury. Not him. “I plan to run until I can’t any more.”