Checking In With Bob Wiles

You are a bit of an underground legend.  First for your racing.  Second for your videos.  Who or what is your muse?

Wow, that’s flattering. I think we need to emphasize ‘bit’ and de-emphasize ‘legend’ in that statement, but I’ll take it as a compliment either way.

In terms of racing, if someone finds my story interesting it may be because I wasn’t a runner until I was nearly 30. Some people know that I weighed 235 pounds when I started running at 28 years old. From a starting point like that, breaking 20 minutes for 5K is probably a lofty goal. Working my way into a fairly competitive runner hopefully serves as an inspiration to someone who is just getting started and is wondering what is possible. As the Level Legion knows…running fast takes a ton of hard work, patience and persistence. Once I got a taste of improvement I was pretty driven to keep at it and see if I could start to catch up to some of the guys and gals I look up to. I remember the first time I was able to finish ahead of Heidi Westover in a race. That was a big deal for me.

Wiles winning the 2011 Market Square Day 10k in Portsmouth, NH. Courtesy of Ioanna Raptis and the Portsmouth Herald.

With regards to the body of work that has been produced by Wilesthing Studios, I think that I’m just foolish enough to act on the silly ideas that I have. As we all know, there are some lonely and boring miles in the training of a distance runner. While I do have some productive thoughts on the roads, more often than not I’m just letting my mind wander and I naturally migrate towards the absurd. Most people would be smart enough to leave their silly thoughts and ideas out on the road behind them but I sometimes find myself bringing then to life. The married men among us all know that look from the wife…slowly shaking her head with the eyes closed and pursed lips. I get that a lot when I explain my ideas. If my wife doesn’t think it is stupid, I probably won’t bother making it.

A little known fact is that you were featured in the very first issue of Level Renner.  What’s new (besides your retirement from competitive racing)?

Yes, its true that I haven’t run a serious race since Stowe in 2011. I actually knew that I was ready for a break after Market Square Day in Portsmouth a few weeks prior to that but had made a commitment to CMS that I intended to keep. With two small boys at home there are other things that I need to focus more of my time on. Being a good runner is fun, but being a good dad is mandatory.

My oldest son is in school now and this fall I was elected to the School Committee in Kittery, which is an exciting new adventure. I’m involved in helping to shape the educational system in the community where my boys will grow up and that is really important to me.

We also moved to a new home on the other side of Kittery this past spring and we have a growing little farm at the new house. There are a few goats, some sheep, chickens, and a couple of rabbits at the moment. We’re thinking about adding a miniature donkey at some point.

Sports Illustrated is known for their cover jinx.  Do you believe you are victim of The Level Renner jinx (even though you were never on the cover)?

While I’d love to blame The Level for my disappearance from the racing scene, I’m afraid I have to point the finger back towards myself. When I was a kid my grandmother from England used to make these delicious dinner muffins called Yorkshire Pudding. I loved them so much that one night I ate about 20 of them and got so sick that I never wanted to see another one for the rest of my life. That was more than 25 years ago and I haven’t had one since. I realized that I was heading down the same road with training and racing and was really burning out from the 100+ mile weeks while juggling a family and a career. I decided to take a break before I really got sick of it and I’m still sleeping off the hangover. I’m hoping to get back into it with a more casual attitude so that I can remain healthy and set a good example for my family, but at the moment I don’t have the fire to return to competitive racing.
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One comment on “Checking In With Bob Wiles

  1. Joe Navas on said:

    One of my favorite persons in this world, running or not. A guy with a high and simple standard of what’s right and how to do it. Bob, you’re certainly missed at the races, but it’s been great just to be reminded of what you brought when you did, where it came from, those freaking awesome videos and that you’re hard at work at what’s most important to you now.

    P.S. Windex and denim are still key components of my training regimen.

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