The loneliness of the long-distance runner is nothing compared to the loneliness of the African-American long-distance runner. Just ask Tony Reed, a 91-time marathoner and the only black runner to complete a marathon on each of the seven continents. "When I run marathons, I look around to see if there are other people like me," says the 52-year-old Dallas resident who warms up to the sounds of Parliament Funkadelic. Often, there aren't. "I was tired of feeling like I was the only one out there."
....To help change that, Reed cofounded the National Black Marathoners' Association (NBMA), which in three years has grown from 15 runners to more than 500 members in 30 states.
....Reed and many other black marathoners are motivated by a disproportionately high incidence of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes among African Americans. At age 8, Reed was diagnosed with glucosuria, a prediabetic condition, and told he'd be on an insulin regimen by the time he was a teen. Instead, Reed spent his high school years competing in cross-country and track in St. Louis.
...."I think a lot when I run," says Reed, "and one thing that keeps coming back to me is, at 52, I have never taken an insulin shot. A pair of running shoes is cheaper than a month's worth of medicine. It's just that simple."
Those are just some of the highlights. Tony Reed's story is definitely worth reading in its entirety, available online or in the current issue of Runners World.