Fred Joslyn ran on his wedding day.
And on the days his three children were born.
Joslyn, in fact, runs every day. No exceptions.
He has a daily running streak dating back to March 2004. That’s 13 years, averaging 90 to 100 miles per week, around 65,000 miles, and he’s still going strong.
Despite his commitment, Joslyn jokes that he does not hold the longest running streak in the Harrisburg area.
“There is a local woman, also in her 30s, Cori Brindle, who is half-a-year ahead of me,” he said. “Every time I see her, we ask each other if our streaks are alive—it should be a fun, long-term challenge.”
Nonetheless, if there’s a face of Harrisburg’s running community, Joslyn’s is it.
Over the years, he has won just about every competitive distance race in the area, often by a lot. Two years ago, he ran two marathons, two half-marathons and a 5K on consecutive weekends—and won them all.
He also owns (along with wife Shelby) Fleet Feet Sports in Mechanicsburg, coaches several hundred runners in area clinics annually and serves as a board member to the Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club (HARRC).
The 33-year-old Joslyn, of Mount Holly Springs, originally from New York state, achieved victory on a worldwide stage last year, finishing second at the 2016 50K U.S. National Championships. That earned him a spot on the six-man American team, which claimed the World Championship in Qatar last November.
So, yes, Joslyn knows how to finish, big. But he actually spends most his time trying to get others across the finish line.
“When Fred runs a race, he often wins,” said Kelly Spreha, HARRC president. “But as soon as he’s done, he runs back out on the course to cheer others on; he runs them in. And that summarizes Fred as a person—the way he shares his passion and joy of running with as many people as possible.”
Recently, Joslyn took his joy for running halfway around the globe, traveling to India to teach children’s running clinics. The trip was organized and inspired by Camp Hill’s Betsy McCoy, founder of Communities Rising, a nonprofit that supplements the education of rural children in southern India.
“None of the kids had shoes or had ever owned shoes,” Joslyn said.
He leveraged his relationships through his running shop to provide socks, shirts and medals—all of which he personally packed and carried in his luggage and carry-ons. Corporate fundraising allowed him to purchase sneakers, in India, for all of the children, nearly 300.
“We ran every morning at 6 a.m.—it was usually about 90 degrees,” he said. “The first day, I was kind of struggling, but the teachers reminded me that the kids are always in these temperatures, so they’re much more used to it.”
Joslyn adapted his “Begin to Run” program from Fleet Feet for the kids—a mix of boys and girls, ages 10 to 14.
“The first day, we ran-walked about a mile and talked about form, foot strike, posture, cadence, and we did some planks,” he said. “Most of the kids had never done any type of physical education, but they really enjoyed it.”
McCoy said Joslyn’s running program was the highlight of summer camp.
“He taught the kids not only about running, but about the importance of setting goals—then having the determination to reach them,” McCoy said. “Our goal was to run a 5K race by the end of the week.”
Despite the many challenges—105-degree days, a lack of electricity and sometimes water and having to work with almost 300 campers and counselors with little or no running experience—he made it all work, said McCoy.
The experience was a learning one for all involved—including Joslyn himself.
“Organizations like Communities Rising are so important to support, seeing their work first-hand makes you more compassionate,” he said. “It was definitely life-changing.”
Now back in Harrisburg, Joslyn is training area runners of all skill levels in preparation for fall half-marathons and marathons.
And his personal running goals? They’re on the backburner for a while, other than maintaining his daily streak, as he adjusts to family life with three children, including a new son. But he plans to run November’s Harrisburg Marathon, which both he and Shelby won in 2015—a cherished memory that happened soon after the couple moved here.
“I’ve lived in several communities but haven’t seen one so passionate about running,” he said. “Harrisburg is a great city to run in. You have the best of both worlds here—the Greenbelt is fantastic, and there are great trails including the Appalachian Trail.”
More philosophically, Joslyn believes that running, though often considered a lone sport, can transcend the individual.
“I think at some point running becomes something greater than the sport itself,” he said. “It gives you a sense of purpose. It builds community. I love to see the running community rallying around each other, seeing each other through struggles and then accomplishing goals—it’s extremely inspirational.”
To learn more about Fred Joslyn’s running clinics, visit www.fleetfeetmechanicsburg.com or stop by Fleet Feet Sports, 6416 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg (in the Silver Spring Square Shopping Center) or call 717-691-3000.
Author: Karen Hendricks