Record-Placing Runner. College Professor. Model UN Advisor.Meet the man who has run a mile a day for 50 years

Derick “Sandy” Hulme is living a life that is far from static. With days that are fluid and ever-changing in accordance with his many responsibilities, Hulme lives a full life. Hulme is the quintessential man of action, with intentional work filling much of his time each day. However, all of his days have one thing in common: He has run at least a mile a day, every day, for the last 50 years. 

Hulme’s running streak extends back to when he was 11, at the beginning of his running career. This youthful start began in part thanks to his father’s role as a high school cross country coach. 

Sandy Hulme partakes in a celebration at Alma College for his 50-year running streak. (Photo courtesy of Alma College)Hulme discovered a passion for running from there, and eventually ran collegiately for St. Lawrence University in New York. After graduating, he shifted his focus to marathons, sometimes running up to 120 miles per week in training. Hulme’s running streak extends beyond competition, however, as he says it began due to a desire to become the best version of himself. 

Hulme fondly recalls the day his streak started, and says, “I thought, if you want to be good, you have to do something every day. So, I thought, well, I’m starting today.” 

It would have been difficult to predict his streak to continue for the next fifty years, but for Hulme, running every day has become nearly automatic. After a while, “It’s just something that you do. It’s part of your routine,” he says. 

There are many things in life that require no conscious thought. There is the obvious, like breathing, eating, and drinking. For Hulme, running is much the same. 

“It’s like you wake up and you have something to eat. For me, [running] is the same thing,” he explains.

Hulme has learned and shared valuable lessons from this approach. These lessons extend beyond running, and into the broader scope of life. 

“Anything you do, if you can make it [a routine], you take away making a decision, and it becomes something you just do,” he says. 

While at first it may seem from this that Hulme has a casual mindset regarding his running streak, he is not shy about what it means to him. 

“I would be devastated if my streak got broken,” he says. 

It is evident that Hulme’s ability to run each day without conscious effort is due not to indifference, but rather mastery. This has allowed Hulme to keep the streak going through adverse conditions, including international travel and injuries—the most significant of which was a hernia operation, where he was unable to garner the strength to do his daily run until 10:30 p.m. at night. 

Not to be outdone by himself, the running streak is not the only decades-long streak that plays a significant role in Hulme’s life. 

Sandy Hulme partakes in a celebration at Alma College for his 50-year running streak. (Photo courtesy of Alma College)In addition to his position as a professor in the political science department at Alma College, Hulme is also the head of the Model United Nations program at the college. Incredibly, they have won the top award at the national Model UN conference for the last 25 years in a row. For Hulme, Model UN has served as a sort of substitute for the role competitive running used to play in his life. 

“In a way, I’ve channeled all [my] competitiveness into this Model UN program,” Hulme shares.

More than just a competitive outlet, Hulme utilizes his position with the Model UN program to take on a mentorship role with his students, telling them it's best to “fully commit to whatever you’re doing at the moment. We want to be able to look each other in the eye and say, ‘we’ve got no regrets here.’” 

Whether it is Model UN or running, Hulme has certainly followed his own advice.

Running has helped Hulme to meet incredible people and have unique experiences throughout his journey, including training with Frank Shorter—gold medalist in the marathon at the 1972 Olympics—and setting a record time for a relay run across the United States with some of his college teammates. 

However, at the crux of it all, it has been about routine and discipline. Something that comes easy for a man who is simply doing what he loves. 

When asked how long he foresees the streak continuing, Hulme says with a smile: “Until I keel over.” 

Until that day, Hulme will continue to run each morning. The streak is strong for now, and long may it last.
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Read more articles by Owen Howard.

Owen Howard is an Isabella County native with a deep appreciation for all it has to offer, in both people and places. He is a current graduate student at Central Michigan University, with a bachelor's degree in biology. He was a collegiate cross country athlete for CMU and currently assists the team as a volunteer coach. In his free time, Owen could be described as 'chronically outdoors.' Owen has a passion for telling stories and for listening to other people tell theirs. He loves getting the chance to allow people to share their passions and stories with a larger audience.