Dr. Daniel Bridge’s love for running pretty much dates back to when he first figured out that he could and has just grown stronger over the years. A little boy who loved to just “run around” to a high school freshman who thought going out for track would be a great way to spend some time with his friends, to a high school senior who won State Cross Country in 2003, to an adult who just competed in his first marathon, running has been and continues to be an important part of Bridge’s life.
“I mostly stumbled upon competitive running when I was a freshman,” said Bridge. “I had a bunch of friends doing track and field and thought it would be a great time hanging out with them. I have always been inspired by Steve Prefontaine. He always left everything out on the track. He made running seem really cool.”
Bridge won the 2003 State Cross Country Meet, by less than one second. Even at that time he was heeding some very important advice, “don’t look over your shoulder to see where you competition is.”
“I had no idea how close second place was,” Bridge smiled. “I’m glad the race wasn’t 20 feet longer or he probably would have passed me!”
After graduating from Shelby High School, Bridge went on to attend and graduate from chiropractic school, becoming part of the family chiropractic business operating in Shelby, Cut Bank and Chester. He had dreams of running a marathon since he was just a little kid and the time training for such an event was finally available. He took advantage of the opportunity, dedicating himself since that time to logging in the grueling miles needed in order to be able to compete.
“I run Monday through Saturday,” Bridge shared. “I prefer running outside, but 90 percent of my runs have been on the treadmill this winter. Treadmills are terribly boring, but it’s nice not to have to don so many layers and brave the treacherous weather. Saturdays are my long runs, topping out at 22 miles during marathon training. My biggest week was 75 miles for this marathon training. Most weeks are 50-60 miles.”
Bridge was ready to compete and ran his first marathon, the Museum of Aviation Marathon, in Warner Robins, Ga., last month. His brother-in-law is currently stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., which afforded him a place to stay and someone to cheer him on as he completed the marathon in fantastic time.
“I was able to go visit them and they were my support crew,” said Bridge. “I took third place, with a time of 2:48:20. The men’s cutoff, for my age group, is 3:00 for Boston, so I did qualify. I plan on running it next year, assuming the Corona Virus doesn’t shut it down.”
It is a major accomplishment for someone who has not competed in a marathon before to qualify for Boston their first time out. Bridge is one of very few to meet this incredible milestone.
“Daniel did amazing,” said Bridge’s high school cross country coach, Debbie Munson. “It is almost unheard of for someone to qualify for Boston their first marathon.”
Running is definitely not for everyone. Right about now many are probably thinking “there is absolutely no way I could, or would, want to do that!” But running is a great cardiovascular activity and stress alleviator and most of those who do forge ahead with it end up doing it for years.
“I think it’s easier to stay in running shape as opposed to starting and stopping, so I would like to continue running for the rest of my life. ” said Bridge. “I like to get my running done first thing in the morning. That helps me to get it out of the way so it’s not hanging over my head all day. On top of that, it wakes me up for the day. It makes me happier and gives me more focus throughout the day.”
Bridge shared that podcasts, audio books and music definitely make the time go by and running more enjoyable. Currently he is training for his next endeavor, the Governor’s Cup Marathon coming up in Helena in June.
“Marathons will be my focus, but you should only run one to three of those a year,” said Bridge. “I like to run shorter distances, as well. Anywhere from 5K to half marathon.”
As one might guess, marathon training is different due to how many miles you are logging to train. Any runner you talk to can attest to the frequency of running injuries, including Bridge, who shared that although he has had many, his dad, Alan Bridge, has been invaluable in helping him recover, time and time again.
“My dad has always been one of my coaches and my medical staff,” said Bridge. “I can’t tell you how many injuries he has helped me through that would have otherwise sidelined me, including an ankle injury I was battling at State Cross Country in 2003. My wife, Christal, has been super supportive of my running, even though it means she is watching our three kids for long stretches on Saturdays.”
With the support of his family, his love for the sport and his determination to run for as long as he can, the title of “runner” is one Bridge will proudly boast the rest of his life. He looks forward to competing and come June, so long as he stays healthy, you can expect he will be one of the first to cross that finish line.
“All runners can attest to the frequency of running injuries, so on top of the training you roll the dice and hope you stay healthy for an extended period of time,” concluded Bridge.