|FIRST PERSON ONLINE: “Energizer Banker” keeps on going ….|
…and going, as he runs more than 32 years straight
December 21, 2011
Thad Childs has run 87,000-plus miles, through illness and bad weather, keeping a runner’s log on bank calendars.
By Steve Cocheo, executive editor
When Georgia banker Thad Childs says he’s “had a good run,” he means it literally and figuratively.
Childs, 64, came from a Georgia community-banking family. Despite that, after four years in the Navy, he took a job managing a textile plant. Divorce gave him custody of his two-year-old son and a determination to find a steadier schedule than the 70-hours-a-week factory position was providing. He decided to take a job at a bank after all, and has been a banker ever since.
Looking for exercise that would go with being a single father, he pushed his son’s stroller to the high school track, left it in the center of the field, and did laps—never losing sight of his son. Inspired by Jim Fixx’s Complete Book of Running, Childs found running habit-forming, and built his schedule around a run-daycare-work routine.
Many bankers run. But what became most remarkable was that, since March 5, 1979, Childs has been running every day. He hasn’t stopped for illness, injury, work, travel, or any other reason causing so many others to stumble.
He’s run more than 87,000 miles over more than 32 years. Every day’s run of “the streak” has been recorded in bank calendars. “Whatever bank I was working at, that was my log for the year,” says Childs.
Thad Childs collects bank calendars. Not out of nostalgia—when he first began running he used his bank’s free calendar as his running log. This became a habit, so now he has a record not only of his running streak, but of his various bank employers.
His basic routine: Rise at 4:45 a.m., drink coffee, and run for an hour, “no matter what.” Later he breakfasts on a glass of Slim-Fast. “It’s not to lose weight,” says the 150-pound Childs. “I just love Slim-Fast.”
He shrugs off concerns about rain, cold, or heat. In fact, on one run, the early morning crowd at the local Hardee’s saw him caught in the fringe of a tornado, hanging onto a telephone pole guy wire while his legs streamed like a flag. Childs takes it all in stride. He’s run with flu, sore joints, and more. “I’ve been blessed not to have things break or to have been in a bad accident,” he says, so the streak continues.
In his younger days, Childs ran in three Boston Marathons and even in some ultra-marathons. While travelling, he’s run up and down Pike’s Peak and along the rim of the Grand Canyon.
But Childs’ preference remains his solo daily run. As he exercises his body, he exercises his mind, planning for what lies ahead. “When you are moving, even walking,” says Childs, “your thinking process improves.”
All through “the streak,” Childs has been a banker. For much of his career, it was with the family’s Bank of Gray, which grew well for years, but was sold in time. The acquiring bank failed in 2009. It was picked up by $2.8 billion-assets State Bank and Trust Co., Macon, where Childs, now executive vice-president, manages 14 branches.
Childs’ streak has taken him the equivalent of 3.5 times around the world, and he’s going strong. Has he considered contacting Guinness World Records? “Never have,” he says. “If I hit 40 years at it, I might start looking into that.”
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