March 20, 2007
Tift Co. --- A high school marketing teacher will do something only 11 men in the world have done. His students and friends will follow him closely in the next few weeks to see if he reaches the big 30, and it has noting to do with age.
Tift County High school students in Mike Beeman's marketing classes often break into a cheer. "Let's go Beeman; Let's go Beeman!"
Few high school teachers get a cheer from their students. So, why does Mike Beeman get so many, so frequently?
"Ninety-nine percent of the teachers they come in and they say,' Don't smile until Christmas,' I believe if you smile all the time and have fun, then, when you get serious they know they better straighten up," says Mike.
Students appreciate his classroom style. "He cares about you and his students," says Senior Chloe Adcock.
The teacher and the students often engage in friendly give and take. "He gives us respect and we give him respect," says Senior Charlie Edwards.
Students love it. "That guy is awesome," says Senior Zachary Pate.
A veteran high school teacher with an interesting past that could knock your shorts off. "I was teased as a youngster. I was nicknamed 'Flab,'" says Mike as he gets ready to jog.
He didn't let the nickname stick by doing something about it. "It's always fun for me. It's a big part of my life," says Mike as he runs on Murray Avenue in Tifton.
He runs almost every day, rain or shine, whether he wants to or not, four miles, six miles, the distance doesn't matter.
When Mike started running as a teenager back in high school, he could barely make it a half-mile before giving out of breath. That was decades ago and now he has run 99,028 miles, equivalent of running around the world twelve-and-a-half times.
He keeps a log of how far he runs and his times. He would often compare times when he was much more competitive, but not anymore. Mike runs for the health benefits in hopes he will live longer and have more time to spend with his family.
He started running as a way to control his weight, but in the past 30 years he focus changed. "A little focus on the Boston Marathon," says Mike who will run his 30th Boston Marathon, his 30th one.
Only 11 men in the world have ever run in so many. He doesn't think about the entire 26.2 miles at one time. "You have to mentally prepare yourself, as well as physically," says Mike who feels he is prepared physically.
The crowd plays a big part in the Marathon. "People standing eight deep look for signs from the runners. A simple thumbs-up signal energizes the crowd who cheer for regular folks like me."
For now, birds become his cheering section until race day. "They sure are," says Mike.
For Mike Beeman, it doesn't matter where he places in the 30th Boston Marathon. It matters that he never stopped running.
The Boston Marathon happens on Monday, April 16, and no doubt Mike's students will cheer him on, as well as those friends who once called him 'Flab.'