Lawrence Dye: King of the Creeper
150,000 miles—that’s equivalent to six trips around the Earth’s equator or 50 trips across the United States. It’s also the number of miles that Washington County, Va. resident—and septuagenarian—bike rider Lawrence Dye has racked up on the Virginia Creeper Trail.
Dye, 78, celebrated his 150,000th Creeper Trail mile pedaled on June 2. An impressive feat for any rider, Dye’s accomplishment is all the more staggering since it’s only been 15 years in the making, and he began the journey in his early 60s.
Dye retired in 1988, the same year the Creeper Trail opened. It’s a rails-to-trails bike and footpath stretching 34 miles from Abingdon to Whitetop Mountain on the North Carolina border. Dye began riding it occasionally in 1990 and only started riding in earnest in 1995. Since then, he has been on the trail five times a week, logging an impressive 10,000 miles per year.
Dye’s reputation has spread far and wide. He recalls meeting a couple from Greenland riding the trail. “They stopped and asked to take a picture with me,” says Dye, who was amazed that they were aware of his mileage milestone.
Though proud of his accomplishment, Dye was humble when describing it. “I feel good about it, considering my age,” was all he had to offer when asked about the moment he earned that momentous mile. He was more effusive in describing why he stays diligently dedicated to the Creeper. “People come from all over to ride this trail. It’s known across the country and the world. The attraction is its natural beauty, which extends from one end to the other.”
There can be no argument that Dye knows the Creeper Trail better than anyone. And he isn’t one to rest after completing such an amazing accomplishment. In fact, he is already on his way to his 200,000th mile. “My friends are pushing me to keep going,” said Dye. “I’m 78 years old, so I’ll do what I can; I’ve already ridden 200 more miles.”
Another Mileage Man
In mid-May, Asheville, N.C. running stalwart Norman Blair ran his 130,000th mile. The owner of popular specialty shop Jus’ Running and a former top 10 finisher at the Boston Marathon, Blair, 52, completed the feat in just under 39 years. He has been carefully journaling his miles since he ran cross country in high school in the early 1970s. The longtime personal coach and former professional runner is well known around Asheville for his tough Tuesday night track workouts, which attract up to 50 loyal runners endearingly referred to as Norm’s Maggots. Blair plans to keep updating his daily log with an ultimate goal of 200,000 miles.
Equally important to Blair, however, is helping fellow runners achieve their own goals. His Maggot workouts are intended to push runners beyond their comfort zones. “There’s no easy way to success,” says Blair. “You have to get out there and do the work.”