WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — West Des Moines’ John Liepa is a man on the run. “A sense of freedom that is a lot of it,” Liepa said. His journey began four decades ago. “I started on January 1st of 1977. That is the last day I missed a run.”
Now at 15,013 consecutive days, John has the tenth longest streak on the Official USA Active Running Streak list. John said, “I got into running because of a knee injury I got playing rugby up at Iowa State and I was just trying to rehabilitate the knee.” Liepa admits it is much easier now that he is retired from teaching after forty years at Iowa State and DMACC. He said, “When I was teaching full-time I had to be very creative about how to get my runs in.” Among the most creative, finding a way to get a run in during a six hour airport layover in Amsterdam. “While everybody laid on their luggage feeling sorry for themselves and tired from the traveling I went down in the basement and put on gym clothes and went for a ten to fifteen mile run around the Dutch countryside,” Liepa said.
The most daring attempt came in an Iowa winter. He said, “When we were living in Ames I was running competitive marathons and I needed to get a long run in and the windchill was negative sixty. My wife drove me towards Gilbert so I had the sun in my face and the north wind at my back and I ran a ten-mile run.”
Most Iowans are bracing for significant snow totals to be dumped on the metro this weekend. Weather Liepa loves. “In the twenties it is balmy, he said. Rain or shine, wind or snow, John Liepa will be lacing up his running shoes. “It is never a question if you are going to run, it is how good will it be that day,” said Liepa.
Members are required to run a minimum of a mile. The number one streak in the nation is by a man named John Sutherland from California who began his streak in 1969, seven years before John Liepa.