08/03/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT
In January 1997, Houston oil executive Rick Worley planned to celebrate his 50th birthday I just as he'd marked his 40th: by running a marathon. "Then I read about a guy running 50 marathons the year he turned 50, and I felt cheesy doing just one," he says. "So I decided I'd run one every weekend. When the folks in my office found out, they started calling me Forrest Gump."
Worley's girlfriend, Dee Stone, 38, was blunter. "You're nuts," she recalls telling him. But Worley kept running. And in South Bend, Ind., on June 6, after completing the 26.2 miles in 4:01:08, he broke a world record by marathoning for the 75th consecutive week. Competing twice some weeks, he'd run 86 races. Despite his frenetic pace, Worley has few physical complaints, and Houston orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Butler says he shouldn't have to slow down unless he sustains a tendon injury. Butler, for one, is not surprised by Worley's dedication. "Runners," he says, "are addicts."
For Worley, who plans to end his weekly races early next year, a marathon is more than a fix. The divorced father of a 21-year-old son, he also runs to raise funds for the Cal Farley's Boys Ranch for children with special needs near his childhood home of Amarillo, Texas. Boys Ranch senior Brian Tinder, 18, ran in Worley's record-breaking June marathon, something Worley thinks every kid should experience. "If you can run a marathon," he says, "you can run life."