Dr. Stephen Reed, 68, of Wiscasset, completed his 27th straight Boston Marathon on Patriot’s Day to keep his streak in Beantown alive.
Keeping the streak going has not been easy for Streaker Steve, as he calls himself. He was stopped at mile 22 in 2013 after the Boston Marathon bombers detonated two bombs near the finish line. The Boston Athletic Association, which sponsors the race, allowed his run to count.
In 2014 he was inducted into Boston’s Quarter Century Club after finishing his 25th straight Boston Marathon. One benefit of reaching the quarter-century mark is that runners are grandfathered and automatically qualify for subsequent Boston Marathons.
That may change next year, because the Boston Athletic Association has imposed a six-hour time limit for all runners. Reed’s official time was over six hours, but he was issued an official time, so he is unsure if he will automatically qualify for next year’s race.
“What they do with the time remains to be seen. I gave it the best shot that I could. Anybody in their right mind would not do it. I had to do it,” Reed said of keeping his streak alive.
In 2015, battling a left hip deteriorating due to osteoarthritis, Reed finished the race, only to watch the official time clock turn off just before he crossed the finish line. Although not officially listed in the results, his race was counted.
This year, the Boston Athletic Association allowed the Quarter Century Club members to start in the second tier, which gave them a shooting chance of crossing the line before timing out in six hours.
On Monday, Reed hobbled the 26 miles in Boston and felt every step along the way. He finished in 6 hours, 8 minutes, and 28 seconds. Just finishing was a feat in itself, as Reed’s hip is in tough shape.
Three years ago when Reed first started dealing with hip pain, he said, “I’m going to take what I have and go for it instead of think about what I don’t have.”
Reed wore a navy blue shirt at this year’s Boston with “27 in a row” written on it. “It was such a crowd pleaser and a good distraction. I knew people knew what I had done and it uplifted me,” Reed said. Although the crowd’s response to his T-shirt uplifted him, it did nothing for the pain he felt with every step.
“If I don’t go down there again, it won’t bother me. You have to question going down there and trashing yourself. I was dehydrated, and almost passed out. I drove out of the city, but I was not in good shape,” Reed said.
“I’m feeling terrible today, but I have felt worse. I am trashed,” he said. “Going down and doing that made me feel how inhibited by this thing I am. I did the best I could.”
Reed’s left hip is “bone on bone,” he said. “It is as bad as it can get. It is to the point where I just could not go any faster. It just limits me. I wanted to (go faster) at times. Common sense told me if I pushed any faster that I may not finish this thing. Just to get to the finish line was a huge accomplishment. As long as I was official with the timing I think I am good. I am at peace with the whole thing if I don’t make the cut” for the 2017 Boston Marathon.
With 5K to go, Reed knew he was going to finish. Of the 26 grueling miles with a bad hip, Reed said, “You can only go so fast. The last 5K I had to tell myself ‘don’t spoil it.’ You could do a number on yourself and not be able to finish. I pretty much gave it my best shot.”
On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after finishing the Boston Marathon, Reed said, “I am trying to figure out how I am going to do the 3 miles” to keep his other streak alive.
His streak of running 3 miles a day, every day, will hit 40 straight years on June 16. Most running streakers run at least a mile a day and they can run inside or outside, but Reed runs his 3 miles all outside.
“The 3-mile has been my benchmark. It gives (the streak) credibility,” Reed said. “You get into the winter, and that 3 was tough with the weather conditions.”
Reed may have hip surgery this summer, which will force him to give up his 40-year streak. “Forty years is a pretty good benchmark,” he said. “I might be all right with giving it up, for quality-of-life purposes.” If he has surgery this summer or early fall, “I may be ready for Boston next year if I want to.”
Faced with hip surgery, Reed thought it would be unbearable to lose his Boston streak and the 40-year running streak in the same year. That motivated him to run Boston on Monday. He is determined to reach the 40-year running streak milestone in June, and will then make a decision about having hip surgery. Reed’s running streak started in 1976, the same year he opened his medical practice.
“I plan on getting 40. Maybe I have put too much emphasis on this thing, but it has complimented my life tremendously,” Reed said of his running streak.
Reed has run 70 marathons. “No wonder I have this hip problem. That is a lot of wear and tear. If I was going to pick an addiction, this was a very good fit for me. If everything comes crashing down, I can still savor the past. That means a lot,” Reed said.
Reed was quoted in an article in Runner’s World that came out just before the Boston Marathon as saying “I’ve been around the globe four times on these legs of mine. Something was bound to happen.”
“It sure would be nice to be pain-free, but the only way that is going to happen is to have surgery. If I decide to (continue with the) Boston streak, I will be able to get through in a reasonable time,” Reed said of having hip surgery.
Other Lincoln County residents running in the 2016 Boston Marathon were Gerald Huber, Boothbay, who finished 1,939th in 3:10.33; and Stacey Friant-Miller, Boothbay Harbor, who finished 24,636th in 3:55.17.