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Running / By Budd Bailey: Dedicated Quiros a picture of perpetual motion

The picture tells more than a thousand words.

Jose Quiros pulls out his driver’s license, which displays the photograph of a man who looks overweight and less than healthy. An observer who didn’t know better might think it was a different person.

“I get a hard time from people saying, ‘That’s not you,’ ” he says.

But it is – and it’s the same Jose Quiros who ran 154 races in 2014 and is the picture of health. That’s more than anyone has ever run locally in a year, and the man who did it was, as of less than three years ago, extremely unlikely to run one race.

“I have a clean bill of health because of running,” Quiros said.

His story begins in 2012. The Medina resident works for Modern Disposal Service.

“I’m a driver supervisor,” he said. “In order to do that, I have to maintain a commercial driver’s license. I get a physical every two years. When I went in for the physical, the doctor was pretty straight with me. He said, if you’re lucky, you just might be able to keep driving. I carried an extra 50 pounds, with high blood pressure. I struggled trying to lose the weight.”

When Quiros flipped the page on a New Year, he decided to try to do something about all that.

“My New Year’s resolution was to try to stick with it,” he said. “This time, I did. I started walking on the treadmill – I couldn’t run yet. I made a huge change in my diet and turned vegan – no meats and all that good stuff. To my surprise, the pounds started dropping.

“Then I started running a little bit. I got on the treadmill, and it got easier and easier. I had never thought about running before.”

Then came the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April, 2013. Quiros noticed how running communities throughout the nation came together. He heard comments from runners along the lines of “you messed with the wrong people,” and took inspiration. Quiros decided to run the Buffalo Half-Marathon in May.

“I grew up in the City of Buffalo on the West Side,” he said. “As a kid I remember them going down Niagara Street. So I thought I’d try it. I never thought I could do it, because I didn’t really train for it.

“To my surprise, I finished. My goal was to be under 2 hours. I did much better than that; I was around 1:43.”

Quiros couldn’t walk for two weeks after the race, but the pain eventually went away while the good feeling that came when crossing the finish line didn’t. So he started filling out entry forms for races. He did five or six more half-marathons, a full marathon, and a handful of 5-kilometer races – a total of 20 in all.

When the calendar turned over to 2014, Quiros decided to race more frequently.

“I never thought I’d end up running every race on the calendar that I could, but it just turned out that way,” he said. “It so weird – once I started running races, I found I couldn’t train. I’m not a good trainer. I just had to race. All the miles I ran up (785), I don’t think I trained for more than 20, 25 miles the whole year. I got hooked on the experience of races.”

Quiros topped the 2013 total of 151, set by Randy Brownlee. The former record-holder cheered the challenger on almost every step of the way.

“He couldn’t have been more supportive,” Quiros said. “I don’t know how many races we ran together. He’d wish me luck at the start, and congratulate me at the end. In my record-breaking race, he was one of the first to congratulate me.”

Quiros spent more than $3,000 on entry fees for the year (“I’m expecting a medal from the nice people at Visa/Mastercard,” he joked). He points out that running races has become his biggest hobby, and the money at least goes to good causes.

Quiros came out of the year close to injury free. He’s done taking his old medication and can’t wait to run some more races in 2015 ... although he might not pile up as many miles.

“I think I’m going to run a lot,” Quiros said. “But I’ll lay off some of the high mileage races. I’m not going to do four marathons or the six-hour challenge again this year.”

Race calendar

• Mr. Ed’s Superbowl Warm-Up, 5K, Main St., Middleport, 11:30 a.m. today, (585) 798-3283.

• Lockport Y-10, 10 & 5 miles, 19 East Ave., Lockport, 10 a.m., Feb. 14, 434-8887.

• Heart & Soul Run, 5K, 701 Seneca St., Buffalo, 10 a.m., Feb. 14, 440-7507.