Look at Mr. Watson: He Just Keeps Running
Provided by Patch.com
Former Rochester teacher and grandpa is one of four runners to have finished every Detroit marathon — and he's not stopping any time soon.
Garry Watson was 35 years old and had never run more than 12 miles in his life when he and two teacher friends signed up to run the Detroit marathon.
It was 1978, the marathon's first year.
He admits he had no idea what he had gotten himself into.
"A couple teachers I worked with said, 'We should sign up and do this,'" Watson recalled. "One of the other two guys never ran another marathon after that. The other guy ran only one more.
"And, well, I just kept going."
Watson, a longtime Rochester middle school teacher, is 68 years old and is one of four runners who have participated in all 34 Detroit marathons.
He walked part of Sunday's marathon and finished in just more than six hours.
Since that first long run in the late '70s, he has run a total of 102 marathons, including Boston (seven times), Disney (three times) and New York. He has run marathons in Oregon, Montana, Texas and Maine. In his hometown of Rochester Hills, he has run the Brooksie Way half-marathon three times.
He runs every day — and he once went 12 years without missing a daily run.
What keeps him going? A goal.
"I want to be able to run the 50th Detroit marathon," he said. "I'll be 84. I really believe it can be done."
Watson remembers, with detail, nearly every Detroit race. He recalls when the race started in Canada and when it finished on Belle Isle. He preferred the days of finishing at Ford Field, where his family members could keep warm while watching the finish.
His wife, Mary, watched along the route Sunday. "We are constantly amazed at his durability and proud of his accomplishments," she said.
The Watsons have two daughters and two grandchildren. When he is not running, Watson spends time with his family, playing golf or vacationing in Florida or North Carolina, where his twin brother lives.
At home in Rochester Hills, Watson runs along the Paint Creek Trail and through the neighborhoods.
"It's part dumbness, part persistence," he said with modesty of his running life.