At the age of 74, Buddy Wisseman crossed the finish line of his 25th Boston Marathon, during the city’s 118th marathon on April 21. He said he paused to take some photos with his disposable camera only 200 feet from his goal, right before he earned his place among only 51 active athletes in the Boston Marathon Quarter Century Club.
Running 25 consecutive Boston Marathons wasn’t originally a goal for Buddy Wisseman, but now that he’s made the mark, he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“I didn’t start out to run 25 Boston Marathons in a row,” he said as he reflected on his running career. “After several, I was wanting to go back.”
Around the 15th Boston Marathon, a friend sent Wisseman an article about the Quarter Century Club, an elite group of athletes that are recognized for running the marathon for at least 25 consecutive years. Once Wisseman hit his 20th race completion, he said he made a verbal commitment to join that group.
At the age of 74, Wisseman crossed the finish line of his 25th Boston Marathon, during the city’s 118th marathon on April 21. He said he paused to take some photos with his disposable camera only 200 feet from his goal, right before he earned his place among only 51 active athletes in the Boston Marathon Quarter Century Club.
“It is a unique group of people,” he said. “It’s certainly a goal that I’m glad I was able to make.”
Wisseman, who has lived in Chattanooga, Tenn. since 1971, was born and raised in Milford and graduated from Milford High School in 1957, when it was still on Lakeview Avenue.
“Milford is my home and I’m proud about it,” he said while visiting his sister’s home on Evergreen Lane in Milford.
After serving in the Air Force for four years and working a short time for DuPont in Wilmington, he pursued a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Delaware, graduated in 1969 and shortly after moved to Tennessee where he met his wife, Sonia.
After their wedding in 1975, Wisseman said some friends encouraged him to join the running fad of the 1970s, and found that his new hobby was also a way to make new friendships.
Since starting his running career in the late 1970s, Wisseman has logged more than 58,000 miles and 52 marathons, with his wife at the sidelines of every marathon except one.
“The support that she gives me is just unreal,” he said. “When I get nervous, she’s there to take care of everything.”
Last week in Boston, not only was his wife on the sidelines showing her support, but Wisseman said the support of the spectators was beyond anything he had seen in his 25 years of running the Boston Marathon.
“This year was beyond belief. They were determined to erase the memories of last year,” he said.
During last year’s bombings, Wisseman was about three miles down the course, he said. He didn’t see much, until about a half a mile from the finish line, he saw that runners had stopped and were walking in the opposite direction from the finish line. But he said he never felt in danger and safely met his wife back in their hotel room while the city was locked down.
“I don’t remember having any concern,” Wisseman said as he explained how the electric chip, which is used to keep track of his progress, allowed his wife to know that he was safe.
And this year, despite last year’s attacks, the crowds were out in full force, supporting all of the runners at every stage, he said.
Usually, when he runs the course through the small towns and heads toward the end of the race after hours of running, the crowds seem to dwindle, he said. But not this year.
“They were still five [people] deep,” he said. “The crowd was easily the biggest I’ve seen in 25 years and it really put a plus on everything.”
And while the support of friends, family and strangers encourages Wisseman to keep running, he said that every race and run is another example of why he should be grateful to be alive, and to be healthy enough to keep on running.
“When you run it 25 years in a row – it’s even longer that I’ve run every day – you don’t think this is something I’ve done, you thank God for your good health,” he said. “You have to be thankful for living this long … and you have to realize I’m fortunate, not only to live, but to still be able to run and finish the Boston Marathon.”