Christiansburg’s Daniel Kolasa is a man of many talents and interests – a real renaissance runner.
A radiographer by day (and sometimes night), he’s also a beekeeper, an avid motorcyclist, a former flight instructor, and an iphone photography aficionado.
He’s also a streaker. As of July 12, Daniel has run at least one mile for 934 consecutive days. In mid-September he will reach his goal of running on 1,000 days straight. Will he break the streak then? Hard to know, Dan says.
As a runner, Dan’s not just consistent. He’s competitive. In both 2019 and 2021 he placed third overall in the Mountain Junkies trail series. Earlier this month he ran a blazing-fast 1:23:28 to finish 7th overall at the Varmint Half Marathon in beautiful Burkes Garden.
But his most satisfying running accomplishment — completing the Yeti 100 in under 24 hours. — was more about distance and determination.
“I decided I wanted to run a 100 miler as a 40th ‘birthday present.” I had never run an ultra before and figured why not do it now. It is my most satisfying accomplishment because I was able to finish and it was symbolic to me that I could so something new and hard as ‘an old man.’ It was not easy; it was an emotional roller coaster – nothing like I have ever experienced in running before. Chris Miller paced me the last 42 miles and, without him, it is a little questionable if I would have finished.”
Daniel Kolasa | Age 42
Hometown: I was born in Nowy Targ, Poland, a small town in southern Poland that is near the Tatra Mountains. I moved to the United States (New Jersey) when I was 8 and lived there until I moved to Christiansburg in 2013.
What brought you to the NRV? My wife Kathleen’s job. She was offered a fantastic opportunity to complete her post-doctorate at Virginia Tech.
Occupation: Radiographer. I do X-Rays, angiography, CT scans, and work in the OR during surgeries.
When/how did you start running? I was asked by my best friend from growing up to join the XC team my sophomore year. I had never run or had any interest in high school sports (I was a skateboard and BMX type of kid.) but said yes because he was my friend. I joined and really loved the camaraderie and competition. Then, naturally, I joined track.
Running background: After high school, I didn’t run much. It wasn’t until 2010 that I started doing random races for fun (with little training). I still have and wear the shirt from the first 5K I ran as an adult (less about the nostalgia and more for the fact that it is smooth and limits nipple rub). I ran my first marathon in 2012, but it wasn’t until we moved to Virginia almost eight years ago that I started running consistently. I needed something to do and running races seemed like a great way to meet people, get outside, and explore new places. That’s when I Googled local races and found the Mountain Junkies trail series, which I have been running ever since.
Favorite workout? While it is not a specific workout, the speed workouts on Track Tuesdays are my favorite. I work hard and get to spend time with friends. I especially missed those workouts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Favorite place to run? The beautiful, hilly, smoothly-paved Huckleberry Trail. When I moved to Christiansburg, the Huckleberry was just sections. Over the seven years I have lived here, I have watched it connect to the Christiansburg Rec Center and, then, the high school. Now, I can safely run from my home to the Huckleberry, which I can take all the way to Jefferson National Forest (my second favorite place) and connect with endless trails. I’m very fortunate to have such a wonderful resource at hand. I joined the Christiansburg Bikeway/Walkway Committee in part because of my love of this public trail.
Favorite race? Mill Mountain Mayhem. It is a Mountain Junkies race. While the first mile is straight up, the last mile and a half are straight down. I love crazy races.
Roads or Trails? No preference – both are healthy for strong running. The road because it allows for more constant speed. Trails, with the more technical running, help strengthen the joints and requires lots of focus; they are also so beautiful. I run more roads out of convenience.
Any running superstitions or rituals? Coffee before a race and NOT decaf. It helps me “go,” and I think now has more of a psychological factor. Related funny story, in 2016 when I was running the Philadelphia Marathon, my mother-in-law, knowing I drank coffee ahead of races, kindly got up to start coffee for me at 5 am. After 2 cups, I still was not “going.” As we were about to leave it became known that she made decaf coffee. “Real” coffee was made quickly, and I drank it in the car. When I arrived at the starting area, it was finally time to “go” but no time to wait in lines. I ran to the first Port-A-John on the course (mile marker 5). Only time I’ve needed to make this type of stop in a race and it was the race that I qualified for the Boston Marathon in.
Worst injury? I will not jinx myself by answering this question.
Favorite pre-run fuel (snack or meal)? Apples, clementines, hard boiled eggs, and coffee
Favorite post-run recovery/reward meal? Beer from a local brewery in my running clothes.
Hobbies besides running? Beekeeping and motorcycling. Like running, beekeeping is a hobby that takes years to develop and there is no single correct way to do it. You just have to do it – learn from your mistakes and improvise while you are doing it. Any given year, I have 1 to 4 hives on my property and, I now maintain an apiary at the Carilion New River Medical Center.
There is nothing like picking an interesting location on a map and taking backroads there on a motorcycle. Motorcycling is a great way to see communities and the region (and get to out of the way trails). Similar to running, it’s the unexpected things that I see and experience while getting to my destination, not the miles, that I remember.
Running goals in the next few years? I have really improved as a runner over the last few years; I am a faster and smarter runner. I would like to keep improving. I have no specific race or time goals right now, but I do want to hit that 1,000 day running streak.
Fact many people don’t know about you? I was a flight instructor and am instrument-rated pilot. Since I was born in Poland, I speak fluent Polish and English is my second language.
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