Craig Fram has followed the same path as many former runners.
Although thankful for the replacement value, the 62-year-old Fram has reluctantly become a cyclist.
If given a choice, the former Timberlane standout, who spent much of his extraordinary running career living in Plaistow and Derry but now calls Exeter home, would still be hitting the pavement and the track.
But, after meniscus surgeries on both knees, following other ailments (two double hernia surgeries, two torn calf muscles and a torn achillies), that’s just not possible.
“After the first (meniscus) surgery, I tried jogging on a treadmill and then my other knee went,” said Fram. “That just about did it for me.
“A couple of weeks ago, I tried jogging a few miles and it was really painful. I don’t see myself running again.”
Never one to sit on the couch, Fram has turned to cycling with abandon. He joined the Exeter Cycles club, has entered competitions of up to 25 miles with some success and gets on his bike daily. Last year, he biked 12,500 miles.
“It’s a good outlet and I’m glad I can do it,” said Fram. “I can go all out with no problem. I can go 70 miles and it doesn’t bother my knees at all.
“We had some competitions at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and I met other runners who have gone to cycling. It makes sense.”
Still, given a choice, Fram would still be using his running shoes.
“If there was any way to get back to running, I would do it in a minute,” said Fram. “Biking is great but it’s not as fulfilling as running. Running is my passion.”
That is certainly understandable given Fram’s background. He’s been running since he was a freshman on the Timberlane cross country team and estimates that he has covered between 120-130 thousand miles in his running career.
And he has a competitive resume that would be difficult to match. For at least 20 years, there were few better road racers in New England and, when he reached middle age, in the entire country.
Competing for the Whirlaway Racing Team, Fram was the overall New England Grand Prix open winner four times and a multi-time winner as a Masters runner. He set three world masters records in the 3,000 meters indoors and was part of Whirlaway’s 4xmile world record masters relay team.
For his track exploits, Fram was cited in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd.
But Fram was also a great hill and mountain runner. He won the Mount Washington Road Race in 1997 and later set three masters records. He’s in the Mount Washington Hall of Fame.
“There’s a lot that I miss (about running),” said Fram. “I miss the camaraderie, the guys at Whirlaway. But I also loved the competition and I just love running.”
Fram’s trying to get the same love for cycling but, while it’s growing, it’s not easy.
Glance back at Fram
Following are just a few of the highlights of Craig Fram’s running career.
Placed first overall at Mount Washington Road Race in 1997
Set masters records at Mount Washington in 2001, 2003 and 2008
Member of Whirlaway 4xmile relay team that set a world record
Set three world records for masters in 3,000 meters
Finished 31st in 1997 Boston Marathon with time of 2:22.58
First among all masters in 2006 Chicago Marathon with a 2:30:56
Four-time open winner of New England Grand Prix series
Rivalry with Dunham
For years, Craig Fram had a terrific rivalry with Bradford’s Dave Dunham. They dueled at the Mount Washington Road Race and various shorter races during the New England Grand Prix series.
“We had some really good races,” remembered Fram. “I remember one year, I was ahead of him by one point in the Grand Prix with one race to go, the Cape Cod Marathon.
“We battled it out at the marathon. I finally pulled away a little with two miles to go and finished first with Dave in second.”