“Every Mile is a Gift”


Earlier this month I had the good fortune to hear a talk by Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon. He was a keynote speaker for the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition Symposium in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Burfoot has run 110,000 lifetime miles, and has run the Manchester (CT) Thanksgiving Day 5 mile run for 53 consecutive years! Here are a few highlights from his delightful reminiscence of his years of running.

“You only have to exercise on the days you eat.” That seems to sum things up pretty well! Mr. Burfoot also shared this wisdom from Dr. Walter Bortz, longevity expert. “It is never too late to start and always too soon to stop exercising.” 

Mr. Burfoot entertained us with his stories of his sports nutrition efforts through the years. Here are some highlights – mostly funny from today’s perspective!

  •  “We all used the same sports drink in those days – Kool-Aid!”
  •  “In high school I ate bowls of dry Total cereal for lunch.”
  •  “In college I found a new sports drink, Tang. I drank 12 glasses a day.”
  •  He describes a phase of eating what he craved, which included a lot of chocolate marshmallow swirl ice cream.
  • “I had a ‘craving’ for apple butter the night before the 1967 Boston Marathon. I had to make a lot of pit stops and finished 17th.”

​Mr. Burfoot’s current eating preferences seem a little more familiar.  He said that he has moved toward a mostly lacto-ovo vegetarian diet with some fish. Because of a bout of intestinal illness, he includes fermented foods for gut health. He consumes a lot of water, salmon, cottage cheese w/pineapple, and eggs. He has a morning shake made with milk, kefir, whey protein powder, and strawberries. He likes to make salads with fruit, vegetables, beans, seeds, and kimchi.

In his interesting running career Mr. Burfoot has completed the Comrades ultra-marathon in South Africa, participated in early trials of Gatorade, and run beside Oprah in a marathon.

He closed his talk with the words, “every mile is a gift.” What a fiitting tribute to running, health, and the active life to consider on this Marathon Monday.

copyright 2016 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

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