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Phoenix resident Jerry Swartsley has run 555 races, the Pear Blossom Run will be number 556

Not many people can say they’ve run in over 100 races, few can say they’ve been in 300. For one local runner though, try running over 500.

He’s a modest man who’s been in hundreds of races – 555 to be exact. But with all those miles, Phoenix resident Jerry Swartsley still can’t quite put a finger on why.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “It’s just been kind of a lifestyle, part of my life, like brushing your teeth. Just something you do.”

That lifestyle has been going strong since Jerry’s first race on April 10, 1969. Since then, he’s run 29 marathons, over 72,000 miles and burned through dozens of shoes.

Jerry even has a stack of journals he’s kept from every race he’s ever recorded providing insight to a wealth of history that’s taken him across the country.

With such a passion for running, Jerry has done quite a bit of work encouraging others to do the same. In the fall of 1969, he started Oregon’s first running club, the Southern Oregon Sizzlers, now known as the Southern Oregon Runners.

Then in 1977, he and his wife Zellah started the Pear Blossom Run which they still participate in every year. But with all that work, Jerry laughs about some of his more controversial achievements.

“I ran the Golden Gate Marathon in San Francisco and they ran out of water,” he said with a chuckle. “Eventually to make a long story short, I got banned from the race.”

Besides some humorous missteps (Jerry says he later cleared things up with organizers with the marathon) Jerry is prepared to make it 556 races with next weekends Pear Blossom Run.

He hopes to keep adding to the miles he’s run with maybe one day running so many he could reach the moon.

“That’s a ways off,” he said with a laugh though.

(04/10/2019) ⚡AMP
Pear Blossom Run

Pear Blossom Run

This race run by YMCA starts at City Hall and goes through the town of Medford, OR. The first Pear Blossom Run held in 1977 was won by Frank Shorter, Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist. Thanks to Zellah and Jerry Swartsley who founded and led the Pear Blossom Run for the first 35 years. The race grew from 546...


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