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Alumni Profile

Walsh runs the world

James Walsh

New Yorker James Walsh, BA ’59, MA ’62, has practiced his hobby of running in all 50 states and in 45 countries. Photo by Rob Hill

Some track team somewhere should give James Walsh a varsity letter, if, for nothing else, his tenacity. He has run long distances regularly since 1950, when he was cut from the track team at Christian Brothers College Military High School in St. Louis. “I ran 880s at the tryout," says Walsh, BA ’59, MA ’62, a former IBM trainer and now a management professor at Baruch College in New York City. “Even though I didn’t make the team, I kind of enjoyed the running and just kept going.” 

Another hurdle: In 1955, he was cut from the team at Washington University in St. Louis, which he attended for three years. By the time he arrived at MU in 1958, he knew better than to try out for another track team. But by then Walsh was running his own routes, and he has since taken to the streets in all 50 states and in 45 countries. 

Walsh loves traveling the world in running shoes and getting a sense of place at jogging speed. For instance, he has favorite routes in England (Jubilee Walkway through central London) and France (up and down the banks of the Seine River in Paris). “Before running was popular, people used to ask me, “What are you training for, the Olympics?” These days, people aren’t surprised, but they might be curious. “In Vietnam, they were always asking my age so they could practice their English.” 

The idea of not running two hours a day, five days a week simply isn’t an option, Walsh says. “The world has gone soft. If I don’t feel like running some day, I do it anyway. And if I’m tired and go running, when I’m done I feel like I had eight hours of sleep.”— Dale Smith