Janesville57.3°

Edgerton man stays on the run

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KENNETH M. VELOSKEY
August 10, 2010

Ray Potter of Fulton Township can't say for sure how many pairs of running shoes he has worn out in the last 25 years.


"At least 20," Potter said. "I get a new pair about every 500 or 600 miles. They're supposed to last 500 miles or so."


Potter isn't sure about the number of T-shirts he's collected from road races through the last 25 years.


"I got them packed up in a big pile," Potter said.


Potter can't say just how many miles he has run overall since he entered the JEA Run in the spring of 1983, when he was 49.


"It was a two-miler," Potter said.


But if you ask the 75-year-old Potter for the times he produced, he goes straight to his books. Potter always had one for the books.


After each road race, Potter will jot down his time. He has books filled with 700 career times. Potter's 700th race was July 17 in Edgerton.


"It didn't take long to write it down," Potter said. "They're all in a drawer."


Potter started running to stay in shape.


"My dad had a stroke," Potter said. "My wife and I started walking, but that was too slow for me, so I thought I'd run."


And like they say, the rest is history.


"I got in the JEA run just to see what time I'd get," Potter said. "From there, I got swept away."


Potter has competed in 11 marathons from Big Sur, Calif., to Memphis, Tenn., to Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn. He finished the 20-mile Madison-to-Stoughton Syttende Mai Run 12 times.


Potter never qualified for the granddaddy, the venerable Boston Marathon.


"I guess I just wasn't fast enough," Potter said. "I just ran as best as I could."


Potter's competed in the Fox Cities Marathon when he was 70, which was his last marathon. He didn't finish, but it wasn't his fault.


"They closed the course because of lightning," Potter said.


Potter starting running for his health, and it has paid off. His list of injuries is short, saying he thinks his mostly injury-free career is "just good genetics."


"Well, nothing big," is how Potter responds to a running injury inquiry. "When I first started, I pulled a hamstring, and that set me back a couple of months."


Potter trains on Kennedy Road to County M, where he has been farming for 57 years.


"I mow the grass and still do a few things," Potter said.


Potter said arthritis in his hips is slowing him down.


"I run and walk in the morning three, four miles a day," Potter said. "I don't plan on quitting until I have to."


Potter does not want to close his books on his running career. He is on 700 and counting.


Ken Veloskey is a sports writer for The Janesville Gazette.

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