From quick cashier to trophy winner

Brian Foley realized his potential to become a competitive fast walker when he worked as a cashier in a grocery store as an undergraduate student and had to quickly check food prices throughout the store. | Sergei Blair TTN
Brian Foley realized his potential to become a competitive fast walker when he worked as a cashier in a grocery store as an undergraduate student and had to quickly check food prices throughout the store. | Sergei Blair TTN

Brian Foley proudly shows off his 12 gleaming trophies, glistening in the corner of his office, shining among the hanging diplomas.

“When people see the trophies they always ask if they are linked to running, and I tell them, ‘No, they are all [for] fast-walking,’” Foley said.

The senior academic adviser has spent the last 21 years at Temple. Foley graduated with his first degree in criminal justice, followed by two master’s degrees in educational administration and human resource management.

Yet, all of his academic and personal success aside, Foley said the immense pride he takes in his competitive fast-walking accomplishments is second to none.

One of his best mile times recorded clocks in at 10 minutes and 38 seconds. This pace would complete a 10K race in about one hour. It gives him a four-minute pace time to get from Temple Towers to Annenberg Hall.

“I’ve always been a natural walker,” Foley said. “I think it’s my long legs. I’m 6 feet tall. I don’t drive, so I often walk a lot. Walking you can do anywhere, anytime. You don’t need a gym or any special equipment.”

Brian Foley first competed in the annual Alumni Reunion Fun Walk and 5K Run in 2008, when he said he was instantly hooked on the competition. | Sergei Blair TTN
Brian Foley first competed in the annual Alumni Reunion Fun Walk and 5K Run in 2008, when he said he was instantly hooked on the competition. | Sergei Blair TTN

He first learned of his ability working as a grocery store cashier when he was an undergraduate student. The supermarket had no scanners and items were commonly missing price tags. The position granted a lot of time to practice his natural talent, he said.

“I would have to fast-walk back to check the price of items and things like that,” Foley said.

It was not until his current position did he find a place to harness his capabilities. Several years ago, Foley’s supervisor approached him and explained that the office would participate in the annual Fun Walk and 5K Run.

Hosted by Campus Safety Services, the walk is open to faculty and students. Starting at Founder’s Garden on 13th Street, it takes racers to Diamond Street and then north to Broad Street. Circling in at Cecil B. Moore Avenue, racers navigate through pedestrian traffic to complete their laps. This year, the event will take place on April 26, as part of Alumni Weekend on Main Campus.

Foley missed a few races for personal reasons and scheduling conflicts, but said he finally participated one sunny spring afternoon in 2008. He remembered noticing an underlying competitive nature to the event. He was instantly hooked.

Brian Foley is capable of walking from Temple Towers Residence Hall to Annenberg Hall in about four minutes at his fastest pace. | Sergei Blair TTN
Brian Foley is capable of walking from Temple Towers Residence Hall to Annenberg Hall in about four minutes at his fastest pace. | Sergei Blair TTN

“When I saw what was going on, I quickly left my boss behind,” Foley said, laughing. “To this day, [six] years later, she still reminds me that I left her behind on what was supposed to be a staff development activity.”

Campus Safety Services Capt. Eileen Bradley has been hosting and participating in the annual event for the past 16 years. She had met Foley prior to his first race day, but noticed a different attitude in him almost immediately.

“Brian is intense – a very, very intense walker,” Bradley said. “I’ve never seen anyone so serious about it. He’s perfected his style. He’s had a few little walking battles [with other faculty]. I always have to holler at him, ‘This is not a race, it’s a walk!’ It’s always a lot of fun.”

Finishing in the Top 3 spots in 12 different walks, Foley has no plans of slowing down. He has also completed two Broad Street Runs, averaging a faster mile pace while fast-walking than running. He said one day he hopes to complete the Broad Street Run with a full run.

“Some people often ask me if I’m going to retire, like Michael Jordan or something,” Foley said. “I think there will come a time at some point, maybe. But I’m probably going to run out of room [for trophies] on my shelf first.”

Patrick McCarthy can be reached at patrick.mccarthy@temple.edu.

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