By Ravi Singh
“I just love being with runners,” is Rick Rayman’s very simple explanation as to why, at the age of 72, he had just completed his 376th marathon and would be returning for number 377 just two weeks later at this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Aside from Virginia Lee, Rick is the only runner to have completed every edition of the race.
“There really isn’t any other sport where amateurs line up and compete alongside their heroes, or where Meb Keflezeghi can share a sponsor with someone like me,” Rick says.
And he really does love runners to an astonishing degree. I call Rick at his office at the University of Toronto, where he serves as director of student life at the faculty of dentistry, to discuss his accomplishments and legendary status in Canadian running, but he quickly turns the conversation to me with a genuine interest in my journey as a runner.
Dr. Rayman admits that when it comes to his 40 year run streak and unbroken Toronto Waterfront Marathon streak, “It’s partly to do with ego and being among very few people who can do it, but it’s also to show that it can be done.”
Rick has no shortage of stories of running alongside runners who were struggling at races and suffering together because he knew they would regret giving up. Now, long past his days as a 2:40 marathoner, Dr. Rayman has taken on a role more akin to a cheerleader and running ambassador.
This year, he won’t be the only member of U of T’s Faculty of Dentistry on the course. For his 30th race in Toronto, he’ll bring along around 80 students known as Rayman’s Runners to run either the 5K, half marathon, or full marathon, all in support of the Princess Margaret Foundation.
“The first year, I think we had about 10 students participate and now it’s grown to almost a hundred,” Rick says proudly. “It’s about having fun, raising funds for a cause, and accomplishing something. Running can be crucial for wellness and students are taking that away.”
In his more competitive days, Dr. Rayman had a far more serious approach to racing, going so far as to stay in a different hotel room from his family the night before a race. Now, as he runs into his 70s, fun and wellness outweighs competitiveness, just as he tries to teach his students.
“Throughout my life, three things mattered,” Dr. Rayman explains. “Family came first, my passions were second, and my profession was third. All of those things are important, but you’re not living a full life without that second one and it has to be fun.”
Dr. Rayman’s streak compared:
Second longest active running streak:
14, 920 days running (over 40 years and counting)
Cal Ripken Jr
Most games played by a MLB player:
2,632 games played over 16 years
Most consecutive starts by a NFL player:
297 consecutive starts over 18 years