Edward Snyder, MD, professor of laboratory medicine, doesn’t run to win, but he does run for the crown of a king. Last March, Snyder achieved a goal 16 years in the making—running races in all 169 towns in Connecticut. Those few who complete the feat are crowned as royalty by his running club. "One good thing about running in Connecticut is the number of towns,” Snyder says. “Imagine running through Texas, where there are over 2,000 towns.”
Snyder started running as a means of exercise when he was an intern in New York City. Shortly after he moved to Connecticut a friend introduced him to the Run 169 Towns Society, also known as Do Every Blessed Town in Connecticut (DEBTiConn). Snyder decided to go for it.
“It’s a great way to get to know the state,” said Snyder, a native of Chicago. “You learn a lot of geography, and in the morning when you get to see the clouds and the fog rolling in over lakes is absolutely gorgeous; it’s a beautiful state.”
“Until you start running it,” he added with a laugh.
The journey, however, was more than scenic vistas. Races were run year-round, oftentimes in the rain or snow. Once, a race marker got turned around, sending Snyder in the wrong direction. Another time he had to swerve around an unfriendly dog who looked like he wanted to turn the race into a chase. Nothing deterred Snyder from completing his goal, however, in part because the races were always supportive of a good cause.
Official races run through DEBTiConn are usually organized for a charity or organization, according to their website. And in order to become a king or a queen, a runner must compete only in official races after paying a fee to run as a registered participant. Length does not matter—the races vary from one mile to 10, though Snyder’s preferred distance was the 5K.
“I’m not exactly at the front of the pack,” he said. “I go just to go. Sometimes the maintenance crews are picking up the orange cones right behind me."
Snyder is listed as 74th person crowned for running all 169 towns, out of more than 2600 active participants posted on the DEBTiConn website.
He does not intend to stop running—and he plans to keep his wall of racing bibs up in his office—mostly with odd numbers displayed. He says he prefers odd-numbered bibs because running does involve a bit of superstition.