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Jogger sees lots of oddities in last 15,000 miles

March 04, 1997

By JENNYLYNN BROWN

Staff Writer

WILLIAMSPORT - While jogging at a high school athletic field early one morning, John Benedict Sr. had a close encounter of the strange kind.

"I was jogging on the track near the grandstand, and I saw a policeman with his gun drawn entering the gate," Benedict said.

"I didn't know what to do. I didn't want it to look like I was running from him."

Benedict decided to act natural and keep jogging.

Then he saw another policeman with his gun drawn.

The next thing he knew, the police took a man away in handcuffs, Benedict said.

That shakedown happened in the early 1970s.

When you run as often as Benedict does, strange things are bound to happen from time to time. He's jogged an estimated 15,000 miles. He knows because he has been keeping a log since June 14, 1969.

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Benedict usually writes the date, distance, temperature, humidity, aerobic fitness points, his weight and his running time in 3-by-5 spiral notebooks.

Example: Silver Spring, 10,000 miles, Nov. 26, 1984, 4 miles in 37 minutes, 16 seconds, 34 degrees Fahrenheit, 93 percent humidity, 160 pounds, 12 points.

"I get around 1,500 miles on a pair of shoes," he said.

Benedict, 71, a retired editor of the Suburban Record (later Silver Spring Record), runs about four miles every other day.

Could this be an obsession?

"I'm not as much addicted to running as I am to tennis," Benedict said. "I like to play tennis as hard as I can. I wouldn't dare do it if I wasn't in shape. Running gives me my basic aerobics."

Benedict said he also stays active to avoid a relapse of polio in his right leg and arm. Polio is a viral disease that can start with flu symptoms but can cause paralysis.

"I was 16 at the time. I was an active athlete," Benedict said. "I thought I had a promising baseball career."

He recovered with about 60 percent use of his right side.

"He always figured if he didn't keep moving, it would catch up with him again," said Marilyn Benedict, his wife. "I really have to admire his guts."

The Benedicts have two daughters and two sons. Once, Benedict, then living in Silver Spring, Md., decided to jog to his son's house in Columbia, Md., nearly 20 miles away.

"That was quite a shock," said John "Rocky" Benedict Jr. "I was in the yard and saw him jogging down the sidewalk. I thought, `What in the world? Something's wrong with this picture!'"

"In the house, he drank some cold water and said he wanted to take a shower," Rocky said. "I kept waiting to hear a thump in the bathroom from him falling down."

"Then my wife's mom called. I told her `My dad is here. He just ran over ... No, he just ran over," Rocky said.

"She said, `Is he crazy?' I said, `No, he's just fit.'"

In the 1980s, a race was held in Silver Spring to find the fastest way to get to the Metro station. Benedict raced against a bicycle, a motorcycle, a car and a commuter bus that had to follow traffic rules. The bicycle came in first.

Benedict was second.

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