Running isn’t something Dave Cook came to out of an abundance of natural talent.
His desire to first take to it in the late 1980s had little to do with the act of running at all.
No, Cook – the sports information director at Eastern Washington University since 1990 – is no marathoner and certainly isn’t building toward an ultramarathon.
Rather, Cook, as he puts it, “runs to eat.” About 30 minutes a day is plenty for him.
“Even running for an hour at a time, I can feel it and I don’t wanna push it too much,” said Cook, 57. “The 3 miles to me is just perfect.”
So perfect, in fact, that he has run at least that many miles every day – including, barring a catastrophe, today – for the last 3,199.
Bloomsday was scheduled for Sunday before the COVID-19 pandemic led organizers to postpone it until Sept. 20, the day after Eastern Washington’s football team is scheduled to host Northern Arizona. Cook hasn’t missed a Bloomsday since 1987.
Freida, his wife, has his Bloomsday streak topped by one year. She has also completed four marathons.
Cook said the night he first met Freida, the day before Thanksgiving in 1987, Spokane’s annual event was one of their first conversation topics.
“I think we talked about Bloomsday because that was our common thread,” he said.
They will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary on June 30.
Cook first started running in the late 1980s under the guidance of Mike Keller, the long-time cross country coach at the University of Idaho, where Cook then worked.
“I ran a little bit and he laughed at the way I ran,” Cook said. “He just became such a good running buddy and taught me to run the right way so I wouldn’t wear down my (shoes).”
Cook started running regularly, if not daily. By the early 2000s, he was walking daily to manage stress. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago, though, that the regimen evolved into running daily.
Through the winter of 2010-11, Cook ran every day but ended the streak that spring, something he said he regretted. He felt better when he ran, and he could eat and drink more, too.
After returning from a family trip to Disney World that summer, he started the 3-mile streak anew on July 30, 2011, and hasn’t missed a day since.
His streak has been threatened only occasionally, he said. He hasn’t suffered injuries major enough to sideline him. Aside from an unfortunate run-in with a branch in Riverfront Park, he hasn’t sustained injuries while running, either.
If he has a cold or another ailment, he runs through it. If he has to travel for work, he will get in a midnight run the night before.
His usual route in Cheney skirts the east side of EWU’s campus, runs past Showalter Hall, then down College Avenue to downtown. From there, he runs down Second Street and then back up Salnave to Scenic Heights, where he then catches Gary Street.
About a year ago, he added the hill on Ridgeview Drive to make it a 3.3-mile run.
He doesn’t use a watch or an app to track his runs. The only race he competes in is Bloomsday, and the only way he knows his time for it is by checking the results online.
When their kids were young, the Cooks joined the stroller section, but once they were old enough, their two children participated on their own feet.
Other than music – earbuds linked to his phone, he said, are a big upgrade over the Walkman cassette he first used three decades ago – and a good pair of adidas running shoes, Cook doesn’t need anything else to keep him happy and running.
For Sunday, Cook said he and Freida have decided they will run their normal 3-miler in the morning. Freida’s daily streak reached 1,734 but ended last fall when she broke a bone in her foot, Cook said. She started a new streak on Jan. 1.
Cook is hopeful that come fall, he, Freida and their two children will participate in Bloomsday, keeping their various streaks alive.
“When you do it that many years, it’s quite the tradition,” he said. “I’m a creature of habit. Thirty years at Eastern (Washington), nine years running. I just like that continuity of things.”
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