Gary Rust will do just about anything to ensure his place in the U.S. Running Streak Association remains intact.
Since 1983, Rust has run at least once a day to ranked 44th in the country with 34.28 consecutive years. The No. 1 ranking belongs to another Californian, Jon Sutherland, whose streak dates back to 1969 or 17,671 consecutive days.
The 70-year-old Rust tested the boundaries of maintaining his own streak recently when he was cooped up in a hospital bed following prostate surgery.
“I was all stapled up – 30 or so,” recalls Rust. “On the day of the surgery, which was at 8 in the morning, I’d run a few minutes after midnight. That took care of the day of the operation itself. But the next day, later in the day, with the staples, I jogged in the bathroom for about 15 minutes.”
VIDEO: The Rust Family talks about their passion for running every single day.
“Did you …? Was there …?” stammers someone hearing his story for the first time.
“Bled quite a bit, yes,” Rust admits, with a laugh. “But the day after that wasn’t bad. I went around the third–floor loop for a mile plus.”
What drives a man to make running part of his immediate post-op recovery? Streaking does. And Rust is not alone. His wife Veronica, and their teenaged son Yeraj, nicknamed Rusty, are also active streakers.
The trio run sometimes together, sometimes each on their own; sometimes early in the morning, sometimes in the last late-night minutes –at least one mile within each calendar day.
Every. Single. Day.
“I started running back in the 1970s,” Gary says. “Then somehow or other I just started running every day. I ran for a year, but then missed a day. ‘Never gonna do that again,’ I said to myself,, and that’s when I started my streak: July 3, 1983.”
Rusty, 17, has been running for more than a third of his life: 2,251 days, or 6.1 years, as of early October 2017. His mom’s streak is twice Rusty’s: 4,828 days, or 13.2 years. And the Rusts’ three streaks will continue Oct. 28 when they join more than 1,100 runners and walkers at the Palm Springs Aerial Tram Challenge.
Since 1983, Desert Hot Springs’ Gary Rust has run at least once a day to ranked 44th in the country in the U.S. Running Streak Association with 34.28 consecutive years.
As its name warns, the Challenge is a grueling 3.7-mile climb, ascending 2,000 feet of elevation at an average 12 percent grade (16 percent at the top), through Chino Canyon into the San Jacinto Mountains, from the Tramway’s Visitors Center to its base station.
“It is the toughest race you are ever going to do,” Gary declares, enthusiastically. “No question about it. But if you force yourself to start out slow, really slow, and keep to a steady, controlled pace, you can do it.”
The Rusts have run the Challenge several times, and Gary holds three age-group records. But the 2017 race is already guaranteed to be a Rust keepsake, because they are running it in preparation for Rusty joining the Marines in 2018.
It might, in other words, be their last chance to streak the Tram as a family.
The 32nd Annual Palm Springs Aerial Tram Road Challenge 6K, in support of the United Way of the Desert, starts at 7 a.m. Oct. 28, For more information and to register, visit kleinclarksports.com/Tram