Howard Duncan, 49, is one of 18 runners who will run the Carlsbad 5000 for the 25th time on the event’s 25th anniversary Sunday.
Interview by: Matt Fitzgerald
You might think that someone who has run the same race every year for a quarter-century is actively trying to keep his streak alive. And since Howard Duncan is the youngest “legacy runner” of the Carlsbad 5000, you might assume he hopes to eventually become the only runner who has run the race every year from the beginning. But as he explained in this recent interview from his home in Oceanside, Calif., Howard just keeps running the Carlsbad 5000 because he loves it.
Competitor.com: Tell us about yourself.
Howard Duncan: I teach piano in North County. I have about 40 students. I’ve been doing that for about 20 years. I have two kids, but they’re all grown up. My daughter, Amber, is 27. She got married last year. My son, Joshua, is 29, and he’s a DJ.
What inspired you to run the first Carlsbad 5000?
I used to live in Carlsbad, right down the street from the finish line of the Carlsbad 5000. So that was one reason. The other reason was I was on the track team in high school. I went to North Hollywood high school in North Hollywood. I just wanted to keep running.
What was that first experience like?
The race was a nice size. Instead of thousands and thousands, like there are today, it was pretty small. It had a nice hometown feel, which it still does. The course has always been terrific. The fact that you can see the ocean is great, and it’s nice and flat. The City of Carlsbad does a terrific job hosting the race every year. And all of the elite runners who come from Kenya and Ethiopia are spectacular to watch. They just get top-notch athletes from all over the world to race. That’s always the icing on the cake—to see those runners at the end.
What was your own best performance in the race?
[laughs] I used to run around 20 minutes. But it’s gone up little by little over the years. I’m slowing down as I run more races, but I still enjoy it.
After you had done the race a few times, did you want to keep doing it to keep the streak alive?
It’s organized well. The vendors are friendly. I love the t-shirts. They’re too nice to use to wax your car. I just love the Carlsbad 5000.
How many of the t-shirts do you still have?
I have all of them. I collect them as art. I keep them stored away very nicely, but I might frame them someday. The artwork has really evolved over the years.
I have a photograph here of you with Carlsbad 5000 cofounder and three-time winner Steve Scott. When was that taken?
I had the chance to meet Steve Scott at the 20th anniversary. At the first race I was just a spectator watching him. It was great to see him run the first race and then meet him 20 years later. The shirt he’s holding up in the photo is actually the one I ran in. He’s a nice guy.
Have you run longer races?
I’ve run half marathons. But I prefer the 5K format.
Never caught the marathon bug, huh?
Do you plan to keep doing the race indefinitely?
Yeah. I just have to keep buying new shoes. I’ve gone through a lot of shoes.
As the most experienced runner of the Carlsbad 5000, do you have any tips for people who are running it for the first time this year?
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to find parking. Stretch before you run. And enjoy the race.