Ira Meyers has run a lot of miles in his day — over 75,000 and counting.
And for this Ambler resident, putting in the footwork is a less taxing job than putting in the legwork of planning a race.
"It's a heck of a lot easier to run the race," said Meyers, who just finished overseeing the Ambler Area Running Club's 11th annual Frostbite 5-Miler Feb. 20. After being a co-director in 2009, he was the sole director of this year's race.
While he said pulling everything together was quite the task, Meyers’ work clearly paid off. With over 1,200 runners, this year's Frostbite 5-Miler was the largest and most successful event in the race's history.
In fact, it may have been a bit too successful.
"We actually closed out registration because it got too large this year," Meyers said.
His recent work organizing the Frostbite 5-Miler is just Meyers' latest contribution to the local running scene, helping to provide opportunities for area runners.
Meyers himself has a stellar race record.
Growing up on Long Island, he was a member of his high school's state championship cross country team, and he also ran in college. Then in 1982, he nearly had an opportunity to race in the Olympics, falling short of the qualifying time for the marathon by just three minutes — a time that would qualify him today.
In 1985, Meyers won the Long Island Marathon, and a year later, he crossed the finish line first in the Philadelphia Marathon.
"The Philadelphia Marathon was probably my biggest overall win," he said.
In addition to being a top-notch runner, Meyers attended podiatry school in Philadelphia and has been in the area since 1983. He currently practices at Montgomery Podiatry Associations in Huntingdon Valley, where his wife, Teresa Tobin, is one of his partners.
Meyers said being a runner and being a podiatrist have become inseparable.
"A lot of the time when I'm out on a run, I'm gonna get asked an injury question — that's part of it," he said.
Joining the Ambler Area Running Club seemed the next logical extension of his career and interests.
"I've been running competitively for over 35 years," he said. "I treat many runners professionally. Being a part of the running club is just a continuation of everything else I do."
Meyers was a charter member of the club when it was founded in 2000 and has seen it grow to having around 200 members over the last decade.
"In the past three, four years, I've become more involved in the club," he said.
Meyers is currently the club's treasurer and a member of the board of directors. With the other board members, he helps carry out the club's charitable donations, organize its four weekly runs, enter teams in area races and award scholarships to local high school track athletes.
"Running has gone through a stage where it has become more popular," he said. "Everyone wants to run. Everyone runs for different reasons. Running has grown a lot in the area."
Part of the sport's continued local success is the meticulous care Meyers brings to the Frostbite 5-Miler.
"I've probably ran about 500 races in my life, so I know what to look for," he said. "I'm a stickler when it comes to details. I want it to be right."
Whether that means finding alternate routes to ensure the race is exactly the right length or coordinating the new electronic chip timing system, Meyers will make sure every detail is correct.
With that type of commitment, it should come as no surprise he is already planning next year's run and has a list of things he hopes to improve.
"There's a lot of work, a lot of prep," he said. "You have to start preparing for next year the day after the race is finished. I've already got the wheels turning."