Not long after Duane Schlabach began running, he started keeping track of his miles in running log books.
He'd add up the weekly totals as he went along, and he got hooked on setting a yearly goal – often 1,000 miles – and trying to meet it.
After a few years, he began adding his yearly mileage totals together and recording his “career miles” each year.
The group ran from Duane's house along a road on the outskirts of Monticello, down a bicycle path, on a loop through a nearby neighborhood and back, finishing on a slight uphill grade just down the street from where they started.
“If you're going to go 20,000 miles, you've got to run up some hills,” Duane said just before finishing his 20,000th mile.
He began keeping a running log in 1989 at the suggestion of good friend and runner Kenny Miller of Arthur, in order to keep track of his training.
“If you have a good race, you can look back and see what you did” with regard to training, Duane said.
His miles are all recorded in log books filling a cabinet in his basement. He's also kept track of all his races in a spiral notebook, starting with his first 5K in Arthur on July 4, 1989, which he ran in 20:04. He's up to 465 races now.
Duane began talking last year about getting to 20,000 miles by the time he turned 45 this January, said his wife Andi, also a runner.
But a calf injury last fall forced him to take five weeks off from running and delayed reaching the 20,000 mile mark.
Andi suggested a 20,000-mile party and she began contacting friends with whom Duane had run over the years.
“It's neat because it gives it some meaning, to have people recognize it,” Duane said.
His next goal is reaching 25,046 miles – the distance around the Earth at the equator. He's planning an Around the World Party to celebrate that accomplishment. He expects to reach that distance sometime in 2017.
Photos: Top: Duane, left, and friends running on a bicycle path in Monticello. Bottom: A friend congratulates Duane after he finishes his 20,000th mile.