On Monday, Feb. 15, Belle Plaine High School science teacher and head boys track coach Brad Pederson layered up his four top shirts, winter exercise pants, neoprene mask, gloves, and hat to go for a run in the subzero temperatures.
It was his 309th day in a row of running one mile minimum, though he typically does more.
His goal is to run at least 367 days straight, one day more than a leap year. So far, he has had no injuries and no missed days.
“I told my wife on Sunday, when it was -18 degrees, that if I wasn’t this close to the streak I wouldn’t have probably gone for a run that day,” said Pederson.
He said that running in these frigid temperatures the past couple of weeks has been the hardest part of his challenge, far more difficult than a four day stretch in the fall when he ran a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon consecutively.
He said the meaning behind his running streak is what keeps him going through the heat, snow, rain, and negative weather.
“It originally started out around April 13, 2020, when we got the idea that we weren’t going to be coming back to school,” he said.
He decided to run 98 days in a row, one day for each of the Belle Plaine seniors in the Class of 2020.
When he reached that goal, he decided to push it even further to do 367 days or more.
“Why don’t I go to April 23rd of this year to then just say it was a year from when we officially lost our Track season last spring,” he said.
That was a disappointing moment for both students and coaches, but Pederson wanted to show the team they could still find something good in a difficult time.
“I just took the situation and tried to put a positive spin on it. When we have bad races in track or in cross country, we say there’s something that went right and we just have to focus on that part of it,” he said.
He hopes that when the student athletes return for their 2021 season, they’ll understand the message behind his running streak.
“The motto in track for the guys is we have three expectations: show up, work hard, and compete at your best,” he said. “I want them to see that Coach lives and breathes this.”