Birthday

Runner Celebrates 70th Birthday at Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh

Paul Bloom sort of stumbled into running. Well, it started with a sprained ankle to be specific.

Growing up, he played basketball and tennis. He continued with those sports into his 30s. Then he suffered the injury that changed the course of his athletic future.

He started running as part of his rehab. He’s been doing it ever since. And, on a beautiful spring Sunday – his 70th birthday – he took on the half marathon at the Humana Rock ’n’ Roll Raleigh for the second year in a row.

“I think it went well,” he said. “I had a goal of breaking two hours and I did. The conditions were good and the course, even though I had run it once before, it was really a tough one. I couldn’t beat my goal, but I did achieve it.”

Once Bloom, a professor at Duke University who teaches social entrepreneurship, started running, he was hooked.

“I’ve been running in road races for, I guess now, 25 years,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for a long time. I realized I was better at running than I was at basketball and tennis.”

The streets of Raleigh were his training ground. In fact, he traveled much of the Rock ’n’ Roll course as he started to pile up the miles. He even passed by a camp he used to take his son, Jonathan, to when he was a child.

“It’s exciting to be on some of those roads again,” he said. “It really brought back some pleasant memories.”

Bloom started running marathons in his mid-50s.

“I did 16 in eight years, including five Bostons,” he said. “I also was president of the local running club during that time period.”

But that stretch, “It wore me out,” he said. “I’m better off doing cross training. Now I’m mainly a triathlete.”

Now he embraces a training regimen that includes running, biking and swimming. It is something he can do with his wife, Shelly, who is also a triathlete.

The annual Rock ’n’ Roll event provides a special connection to the city for Bloom. And to compete in the race as he hits a milestone birthday, well, it just means “I’ve been around a long time,” he said with a laugh.

He used Sunday’s half marathon as a training run for his next triathlon, an event in France that will be an extension of his birthday celebration.

Not a bad way to turn 70.

“It’s exciting to be out there with all those other folks who are as interested in fitness as I am,” he said.

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