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Running: Niagara University professor Tim Osberg keeps running for his health

He was sitting in, of all places, a Burger King with some of his colleagues from the Niagara University psychology department when the topic of a running streak came up.

Tim Osberg had just run for his 11th consecutive day, and this idea of a running streak intrigued him.

That was 1985. And with the exception of a five-week hiatus because of hernia surgery in 2011, Osberg has run every day since.

"One of my colleagues was telling me about his mentor who had just finished a six-year streak running a mile every day," Osberg said. "At that time, I had run about 11 days straight and I thought I'd see how long I could get this streak going. Then it became a month. And then another month went by and I decided to commit to it, to run every day for 2 miles."

Once he discovered the United States Running Streak Association, he was hooked on the idea.

Osberg's first streak lasted 9,481 days, or 25.96 years, and ranks 55th on the U.S Retired Running Streak List.

The current record is still an active streak, held by Jon Sutherland of West Hills, Calif. The 67-year-old has run every day since May 25, 1969 (a streak of 17,918 days, or 49.057 years, as of Friday).

There were some close calls for Osberg in his nearly 26-year streak. Like the day his son was born and he ended up running down Maple Road in his scrubs to get his 2 miles in.

Or when he injured a knee playing hockey and thought he'd have to sit on the sideline. He's run, uncomfortably, through plantar fasciitis, winter weather, and the dreaded treadmill.

Even after the hernia surgery, he was intending to run.

"I asked the doctor if I could run the next day," said Osberg, 62. "He said sure, if you want to see me for another surgery tomorrow."

And so on May 19, 2011, his streak came to an end. It didn't take long for him to start his second streak, putting his running kicks back on June 24, 2011.

It's a fine line to walk (or run) — being driven by a daily streak but not letting the streak become an unhealthy obsession. But the motivating factor for Osberg has always been his health.

"I remember the time I ran my first mile in 1978," said Osberg, who started his streak in 1985 at age 29. "For one thing, it's certainly helped with weight control. All the way up until graduate school I was kind of pudgy and started running in graduate school. I credit running with the fact that, knock on wood, I have not yet had any signs or symptoms of heart disease or diabetes, which runs in my family. It's been great for my mental and physical health and that's been the motivating factor for me."

The other benefit: It helps his hockey game.

Osberg's first love is hockey, and he has played in a Niagara Falls recreational league two nights a week for more than 20 years.

Hockey serves as both his social and competitive athletic outlet. So aside from the occasional Turkey Trot, you won't find Osberg in local road races.

"I pretty much run by myself," Osberg said. "When it comes to running, I'm not the fastest. My goal is to complete the distance. I'm more the tortoise than the hare."

And his distances have increased. His latest streak of 2,549 days (as of Friday) has included increased mileage. His average is closer to 5 miles, thanks in part to the technology of the Apple Watch, which allows him to have mileage competitions with his children. That included one day running a half-marathon — not an organized race, mind you, just 13.1 miles because, well, because he could.

"I listen to my body and some days I back off," Osberg said. "I know there will be a day when I have to stop. I'll probably replace running with cycling or cross training, but for now, I'll see how far the luck holds out."

Tuesday, June 19

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 5, 3.5-mile trail run, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park

Thursday, June 21

  • West Seneca Community 5K, 6:30 p.m., Bi-Centennial Pool (behind American Legion Post) — 50 Legion Parkway, West Seneca
  • Black & Gold: Run The Hawk 5K, 6:30 p.m.,  Cardinal O'Hara High School, 39 O'Hara Road, Tonawanda
  • Chase The Sun Summer Solstice 5K, 7:30 p.m., Nativity of Our Lord School, 26 Thorn Ave., Orchard Park

Saturday, June 23

  • 50 Yard Finish 5K, 9 a.m., New Era Field (Home of the Buffalo Bills), 1 Bills Drive, Orchard Park

Sunday, June 24

  • Run Jimmy Run Charity 5K, 10 a.m., Coca Cola Field, 275 Washington St., Buffalo
  • Ashley May 5K, 10 a.m., Galanti Park, 230 Martin Road, Lackawanna
  • Bemus Point 10K, 7 p.m., Bemus Point Golf Course and Tap House, 72 Main St., Bemus Point

Tuesday, June 26

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 5, 3.5-mile trail run, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park

Wednesday, June 27

  • Loughran's Alumni Cup 5K Run, 7 p.m., Loughran’s Bar & Restaurant, 4543 Main St., Snyder

Friday, June 29

  • Athletes Unleashed WOD Run, 5K, 6 p.m., Athletes Unleashed, 3689 California Road, Orchard Park
  • Seneca Hickory Stick 5K Summer Sizzler Race No. 1, 5K, 7 p.m., Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Club, 4560 Creek Road, Lewiston

Saturday, June 30

  • Marauder Trotter 5K, 9 a.m.,  Wright Park, 1 Wright Park Drive, Dunkirk

Wednesday, July 4

  • Lakewood YMCA Firecracker Runs, 10K and 2-mile, 9 a.m.,  Lakewood Beach, Lakewood
  • 40th Depew-Lancaster Boys & Girls Club 10K, 9 a.m., Boys & Girls Club, 5440 Broadway, Lancaster

Thursday, July 5

  • Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 1, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville

Saturday, July 7

  • Ripley's Race To Wellness 5K, 9 a.m., Ripley Town Building, 1 Park Ave. (North State St.) Ripley

Thursday, July 12

  • Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 2, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville

Saturday, July 14

  • Tuscarora Nation 10K and 2.5-mile run, 9 a.m., Tuscarora Indian School, 2015 Mount Hope Road, Lewiston
  • Niagara Catholic 5K, 10 a.m., Niagara Catholic High School, 520 66th St., Niagara Falls
  • The Janeen Kelly Memorial Run 5K, 10 a.m., Mang Park, Kenmore

Sunday, July 15

  • 5K Mission Possible, 8:30 a.m, Zion United Church of Christ, 15 Koenig Circle, Tonawanda

Tuesday, July 17

  • Okay 5K Fun Run/Wellness Walk, 7 p.m., Delaware Park’s Ring Road

Wednesday, July 18

  • ESB Engineering Scholarship Run 5K, 7 p.m., Buffalo Harbor State Park, 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd.

Thursday, July 19

  • Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 3, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville
  • St. John Vianney Kickoff Run 5K, 6:30 p.m., St. John Vianney R.C. Church, 2950 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park
  • Tim Frank Memorial Canal Fest, 4 miles, 7 p.m., Crazy Jakes, 26 Webster St., North Tonawanda

Friday, July 20

  • Subaru Buffalo 4 Mile Chase, 7 p.m., Bidwell Parkway
  • St. Mary's 5K Chowder Chase, 7 p.m., St Mary’s Church of Swormville, 6919 Transit Road, East Amherst

Saturday, July 21

  • Laurel Run 8K, 8:30 a.m., Silver Creek Village Square, corner of Central Avenue and Main Street, Silver Creek
  • Run For Life 5K, 9 a.m., Life Church, 4928 Seneca St., West Seneca
  • St. Amelia Christmas in July 5K, 9 a.m., St. Amelia Youth Ministry, 210 St. Amelia Drive, Tonawanda
  • Character Chase 5K, 9:30 a.m., the Village of Hamburg
  • Westfield Golden Hawks 5K, 10 a.m., Welch Field, Elm and 3rd streets, Westfield

Sunday, July 22

  • Sunrise Camel Spider 5K, 7:30 a.m., American Legion Post 567, 3740 North Buffalo Road, Orchard Park
  • EVL-9 and EVL-4 Trail Runs, 9.1 miles and 4.2 miles, 9:30 a.m., Holiday Valley Mountain Sports Center, Holiday Valley Ski Resort, Route 219 Ellicottville

Wednesday, July 25

  • Ronald McDonald House 5K, 6:30 p.m., Ronald McDonald House, 780 West Ferry St., Buffalo

Thursday, July 26

  • Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 5, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville

Friday, July 27

  • Seneca Hickory Stick 5K Summer Sizzler Race No. 1, 5K, 7 p.m., Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Club, 4560 Creek Road, Lewiston

Saturday, July 28

  • Randolph Toymakers 5K Fundraiser, 8 a.m., 29 Center St., Randolph
  • Wild 5K, Trail Run, 9 a.m., Jamestown Audobon Center, 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown
  • Dash 'N Splash Family Fun Run, 2.5 miles, 9 a.m., Frontier Middle School, 2751 Amsdell Road, Hamburg
  • Battle on Buffalo 5K, 9 a.m., Delaware Park

Sunday, July 29

  • Lindsay Matthews Scholarship Race 5K, 10 a.m., Orchard Park Soccer Complex, 6909 Milestrip Road, Orchard Park

Thursday, Aug. 2

  • Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 6, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main Street, Williamsville

Saturday, Aug. 4

  • Christine Padasak Memorial — Autism Awareness 5K, 9:30 a.m., the Children’s League parking lot, 393 North St., Springville
  • Beast of Burden, 100-mile, 50-mile, 25-mile, 10 a.m., the Nelson C. Goehle Widewaters Marina, 718 Market St., Lockport
  • St. Christopher Summerfest 5K, 6:30 p.m.,  St. Christopher Church, 2660 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda

Sunday, Aug. 5

  • Run716, 15K and relay, 7:16 a.m., Flying Bison Brewing Headquarters, 840 Seneca St.
  • Stephen's Cross-Country Run 6K, 9 a.m.,  Long Point State Park, 4459 NY-430 Lakeside Dr, Bemus Point
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