Mike Reynolds knows something about endurance.

Mike Reynolds knows something about endurance.

The Dublin salesman has endured the annual 26-mile Columbus Marathon since 1980, missing only one year for illness. He'll be one of 5,000 in this year's Nationwide Better Health Columbus Marathon. It starts at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

"This is the 31st year," he said. "I ran the first two then I was sick for the third one. I signed up, but I didn't run itÉ I've run the rest of them."

Sarah Irvin Clark said Reynolds is one of "probably 24 or 25 in all who have run more than 25 Columbus Marathons." The annual event draws 5,000 for the full marathon and 10,000 for the half-marathon.

"There are 10 (runners) that have run every single one so far," Clark said, adding that one will have to drop out for surgery this year. "Mike Reynolds is in a group that's run all but one."

Reynolds said his enduring streak in the Columbus Marathon happened by accident.

"Everybody was running off to other cities to run a marathon, but I can get up, go downtown, then go home," he said, adding that it never disrupted family events.

In fact, the marathon became something of a family tradition; Reynolds said his wife used to haul his children to different areas along the race route in a wagon. His children, now 20 and 23, no longer are hauled along the race route in a wagon, but Reynolds said they're still watching.

"It's still a family affair," he said. "Last year my kids came back to watch the marathon; my daughter brought her boyfriend."

After years of watching her husband in the marathon, Reynolds said, his wife, Gayle, has gotten to act as his bicycle escort for the past few years – a luxury allowed to people who have run the marathon several times. Reynolds said it must be an improvement over watching the marathon, which he said must be boring.

"From mile nine to the finish, she's there to see people walking and tired," he said.

Reynolds, 58, said he's stuck around the Columbus Marathon for 30 years for health reasons.

"A number of people have asked me, 'How can you run it every year?' It's health. It has nothing to do with me being good. I run a 4- or 4 1/2-hour marathon. That's not that good," he said. "Every year I'm in pretty good health and I run it again."

Columbus isn't Reynolds' only running venue; he said he's run 60 to 70 marathons so far.

"I always go to the one in November — the Marshall Marathon. This will be the seventh year," he said. "In October during the Columbus Marathon, that's when there are a lot of marathons, but here are marathons in the spring and on vacation I run other marathons."

To stay in shape for the Columbus Marathon and the others, Reynolds said he runs year round on Dublin's bike paths.

"It's all the bike paths," he said. "I can come out of the house and get on the bike path and run 20 miles. I'm able to run almost year round without having to run on streets É so I haven't had to expose myself to the will and fancy of drivers. Dublin has such a huge, extensive version of them, I'm able to run most of my miles on bike paths."

Reynolds ran in high school, but said he resurrected the habit in his late 20s.

"I ran in high school, then quit like everyone else does. Around age 26, I started running strictly for stress relief," he said. "When people say 'Why do you run?' it's still stress release. I'm from the generation that doesn't have iPods. Running is just me and the world by myself."

He recommended lots of running to prepare for a marathon and suggested starting with something small like a 5K.

"It's not something you try to do in 26 weeks. You do it in several years," he said, suggesting the half-marathon for beginners. "A lot of people have bad memories because they tried to go from zero to 26 miles in one step. People sometimes cannot understand how long 26 miles is. The outer belt is 54 miles. Half of the outer belt is a marathon. That's how far you have to go."

The Nationwide Better Health Columbus Marathon begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday near the intersection of Broad and Third streets in downtown Columbus. For more information, visit columbusmarathon.com.