By Savanah Bandy

Some people run to lose weight, some to relax and others to compete. For Brady Beckam of Carthage, running is just a part of who he is.

“In some ways, I run because I always have,” Brady said. “I began running competitively in grade school with the Joplin AAU team. I gravitated to long-distance, focusing on the mile.”

He ran his first 5K at the age of nine. Less than a decade later, he ran his first full marathon just a few days shy of his 19th birthday. 

“I wasn’t competing at the national level, but I wasn’t slow either!” he said, recalling his first marathon. 

Brady’s days of competitive running, training plans, heart-rate monitoring and calorie counting are behind him – today, he runs for the pure enjoyment. 

“I do what our physical therapist friend calls ‘hippie running,’” he said. “I run for enjoyment, adventure, experience and to feel good. I run because it creates a gap between stressful days at the office and home projects. It also helps offset pizza and whisky!”

Brady still enjoys running long distances, but he takes a laidback approach.

“I did the Bass Pro Marathon in Springfield with my wife, Chanti* but stopped for two beers at the Mother’s Brewing tent at mile 20.” 

On another occasion, running a 50K in the mountains of New Mexico, he took his time to enjoy the scenery and took “a couple hundred pictures along the way.” 

An experience in 2021 while running the Eliminator in Joplin made him realize just how far he had come since the ultra-competitive days of his youth. 

“I finished 14 three-mile laps at the Eliminator in Joplin. The 42 miles I did that day were more than I’d done in any week the previous year. I needed three more laps to finish the event, but I was toast. I was ecstatic with how far I’d made it.” 

He said his non-competitive approach to running came after he learned a lesson about enjoying the experience for what it is.

“In 1996, I took a wrong turn in the Neosho Dogwood Run 5K, and I ended up pouting in the car for 15 minutes,” he recalled with a laugh. “A few years ago, I took a wrong turn in my first 50K, adding a couple of miles – no big deal. Just part of the experience. When I resigned early from the Eliminator, it didn’t define my day. That isn’t why I was there.” 

For Brady, running is a part of his identity. It’s something he’s always done and always will do, simply because he enjoys it. He doesn’t need medals or goals or pressure to drive him.  

“I run because I get to digest my feelings and refresh my mental state,” he said. “Even when I let work take priority and miss a month of training runs, I know I’ll come back to it wheezing and slow and wishing I hadn’t lost the fitness I did have. But I’ll come back nonetheless and enjoy the experience of getting my legs back just enough to support the next adventure.”

*Chanti Beckham was featured in Why I Run in the October 2019 issue of Show Me The Ozarks.

See more photos in the October 2022 print issue or on the digital edition.