For Casey Strange, running is just something he can't do without.
The 47-year-old gets up every morning at 5 a.m. and squeezes in an eight-10-mile run before going to work.
His latest victory was the San Francisco run. This year marked the second time he ran this famous race and finished it in 40 minutes and 50 seconds.
Campbell Patch spoke with Strange about running, Bay to Breakers and the things he does when he's not doing miles on foot.
Campbell Patch: Where did you grow up?
Casey Strange: I grew up on the West Coast. Most of my family is in Santa Rosa. I went to Taft High School in Lincoln City, OR, and then went to Eastern Oregon State College.
I moved to Wisconsin for 15 years for work and then took a transfer back to the West Coast two years ago. Right now, I'm a shipping coordinator for a company out in Gilroy.
Patch: When you aren't running, what are you doing?
Strange: I’m an avid golfer. I love the hiking. I love Quick Silver. Rancho is nice, but if I had to pick one I’d do Quick Silver.
Patch: What is it about running that keeps you coming back to it?
Strange: Two things: I’ve had some success now, and I’m a very competitive person. I want to keep improving, win titles at these races.
It has become such a big part of my life, I cannot go a day without running. I won’t give it up. It gives you such an adrenalin rush, makes you feel good. At the end of the day, it helps ease the tension.
I love the way it makes me feel. I am in better shape now than when I was 27. It would just feel so weird not to.
Patch: What was the first thing you ran?
Strange: The first thing was a mile in the eighth grade, because my brother is a runner. He was a junior in high school at that time. I thought, "I could do that."
I wasn't real big, so I couldn’t play football, I wasn’t real coordinated so couldn’t play ball. So I ran.
Patch: Did you continue running?
Strange: I ran in college, then I kind of just quit. I was kind of done with that phase in my life. Twenty-four years later, I'm back and addicted to it.
Patch: What was it that got you back into running?
Strange: I started running about a year and a half ago on a dare. A friend was going to run the Campbell in 2009.
I thought, "I could do that." So I started a three-week training program.
After the race, I remembered I love running, and that’s what got me back into it.
Patch: So why did you decide to do Bay to Breakers?
Strange: I always heard about it, even back in high school. It was one of the biggest races and famous. But I never lived in this area before now.
I heard about this race, had a checklist of all the famous races I wanted to do, and this was on it. And this year, I wanted to improve my performance.
It was one of those things I could check off my to-do list.
Patch: How do you think it went compared with the first time you ran it?
Strange: The race came off better than what I thought I expected. I finished close to 44 minutes last year.
This was the final race in a sequence I did this year. I did a marathon 10 weeks ago, then the Santa Cruz Half Marathon. I’m more of a long-distance runner.
It was a lot different than last year. I was higher in the pack. It was actually kind of fun to run with some of the lead. I think I enjoyed it more this year than last year.
Patch: What was your biggest challenge?
Strange: The hardest thing were the downhills. Most people say Hayes Hill is the toughest; it's the uphill. This is usually my strength, but the downhills, it's where I get the most beating to my quads. The biggest challenge.
Patch: Would you encourage others to start running, and if so, what advice would you give new runners?
Strange: First off, definitely do it. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It keeps me on such an even keel.
I train 50-60 miles a week. It helps even everything out. From a health perspective, at 47 I'm in better health than when I was at 27.
Start off slowly and be consistent about it. Right after the Oktoberfest run, I was injured. I overtrained. I was trying to push it too much. My brother is helping me out. He’s training me for my next run.
Ease your way into it. You’ll save yourself a lot of injuries and probably have the best time of your life.
Patch: What up next for you?
Strange: The marathon I ran in March this year was in Napa and made me qualify for the .
Up next I have the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, D.C., in October and then Boston next year.