Running isn’t a pastime for Spokane’s fleet-footed Curry family. It’s an endorphin obsession.
When mom, dad and the boys pick a vacation spot, they first map the best places to run.
Over dinner (low-fat, lots of greens), they talk about how fast they ran the latest mile. Forget dessert.
On the kitchen cork board where most families tack telephone messages and school lunch menus, the Currys have created a wall of running fame.
“Some people get up and have a cup of coffee. We run,” says Barry Curry, 43.
The cork board says it all for the South Hill family, the fastest to complete Bloomsday last year.
Twelve-year-old Jerry has enough medals and red ribbons to make a general green with envy. Aaron, 11, trails by just a few despite his Lazyboy training schedule. Their mother, Bernie Curry, takes up more than her share of the board.
Even 6-year-old Joel is represented - a teal ribbon in the corner dangling under his name.
This minivan-driving family of five is a Bloomsday postcard, the picture of health Don Kardong envisioned 20 years ago when he started the race.
Sleek and trim as salmon, the Currys glow with the giddy rush of their morning endorphin fix, the drug released by a body in the agony of strenuous exercise.
“I just love running,” said Bernie Curry, a petite 38-year-old woman. “I’ve been doing it since I was 20. It doesn’t take a long time, but you can do more the rest of the day. I just love it. I love it.”
In last year’s Bloomsday, Barry, Bernie, Jerry and Aaron were fast enough to post an average finishing time of just over an hour. That’s eight-minute miles. Jerry was sixth in his age class, Bernie was 34th.
The Currys get more exercise in before 7 a.m. than most families do all year. Bernie Curry and Jerry pound the pavement around Manito Golf Club about four days a week, up to five miles per jog.
In their running clothes, they look like a Nike advertisement for family values. “We feel a real camaraderie,” Bernie Curry says.
Jerry is hooked. Shy and lanky, he bubbles with goals for the next race, the next year. Mom jokes that he got the running bug early, bouncing inside her belly when she ran Bloomsday in 1983. She was 7 months pregnant.
Last year, mother and son ran Bloomsday in 56 minutes and 34 seconds, with Bernie Curry pressing Jerry the last few miles to notch a personal best. Hers is 50 minutes.
An old basketball injury prevents Barry Curry, manager of a string of Thrifty Car Rental offices, from jogging for Bloomsday training. Instead, he does long workouts on the NordicTrack.
His Bloomsday partner, Aaron, is an admitted training slug. “I like to sleep in,” he says, his quick grin showing a checkerboard of lost baby teeth.
Even so, the boy is the natural runner of the family, able to stay in step with Dad. They each ran Bloomsday last year in just over 64 minutes.
Joel, the youngest boy, has seen the Bloomsday hoards from a stroller, but he’s a couple of years away from running his first race.
The Currys met at a Basque dance in southern Idaho 20 years ago and have been running ever since.
Even when the family is on vacation, they find time to run. Weekend trips to Coeur d’Alene always include a jog along the lake.
But the Currys say they aren’t health nuts. Bernie Curry admits to a chocolate-flavored sweet tooth. Jerry thinks Jelly Bellys are “pretty cool.” There are Pop Tarts in the cupboard.
“We’re not granolas,” says Barry Curry.
Bloomsday - and training for it - will be this family’s focus for years to come. Pretty soon, though, Mom may be passing the torch to a faster family member.
“Jerry will be the one telling Mom, ‘Put your arms down, pick up your legs.”’ she says. “I look forward it.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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