Farley runs campus, 3,000 miles

Robert Burkett / Washburn Review

As American author Arnold Hano once said, “There is an itch in runners.” That is no truer than in the case of the face of Washburn, President, Jerry Farley.

Growing up in Oklahoma, Farley admits that he wasn’t an athlete and that he spent more of his time as a youth pursuing academic endeavors. It wasn’t until after Farley’s time in the hands of one institution in particular that he first started toward the path of a runner.

“The first time that I started doing any real physical activity was in the Army,” said Farley. “It was after I graduated college and you had to do things then, they called it physical activity and part of it was running and that’s just what you did, I didn’t think to much of it.”

After serving his time in the army, Farley went back to school. While working part time at the University of Oklahoma, one of his coworkers managed to talk him into going for a run with him.

“I bought a pair of shoes and went running with him and I thought, ‘this is terrible, this is hard’,” said Farley. “I was no good…but I decided that I would stick with this and so he and I would go running instead of going to lunch.”

Eventually, working different positions at both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, Farley would continue to build his distance  culminating at that point in a six-mile race. The continuation of this process became ingrained in him as he moved forward in his professional life. He began tracking his distances and noticed he was coming close to 2,000 miles for the year.

“So when I came [to Washburn] I came in July of that year in [1997] I ran 2,000 miles,” said Farley. “And so then it became really obsessive and I felt good and I was running more and I just started running 50 miles a week. So in [1998] I did about 2,500 miles. Since then I’ve run no less than 2,500 miles a year.”

In 2009, Farley set a goal and managed to meet the mark of 3,000 miles for the year. The achievement was one that Farley doesn’t plan on repeating again anytime soon.

“It’s the most I’ve done and its hard, really hard,” said Farley. “It takes it out of you and its just too hard.”

Beyond the distances that Farley has run, where his endless strides have taken him is just as impressive.

“My brother and I took a trip around the world, roughly three and a half weeks,” said Farley. “One of my goals was to run on every continent. I’ve run around the Pyramids [of Egypt], I’ve run on the Great Wall of China, I’ve run around the Eiffel Tower, I’ve run around Big Ben.”

One of the toughest places that Farley has ever run was in the mountains of Peru at 14,500 feet above sea level.

“It was hard, the first 100 yards felt like I had run 10 miles,” said Farley.

With all the traveling that Farley takes on as part of his job, finding the time to run sometimes is a matter of using the time that presents itself.

“Sometimes if it’s a long flight I’ll run an airport,” said Farley. “I’ll change shoes and head outside and run around the parking lot or in the garages to stay out of the bitter cold.”