Gary Atlas runs through Coney Island and takes a dip in the ocean every day, and he has continued to do so, even through the cold and snowy temperatures of this past winter. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
As workers with the city's Department of Parks and Recreation spreaded salt on the latest dusting of snow Monday, Gary Atlas emerged from his building shirtless and ready to run. About his only acknowledgment of the cold was the socks that he wears on his hands.
"The fingers tend to freeze up, so socks work better than gloves," he said. "Gloves, after a while, my fingers will get cold. Socks has a mitten effect. The hands stay warmer."
So off he goes Monday for run number 2,354. He goes out every morning to do the same exercise routine, running from one end of the boardwalk in Brighton Beach to the other in Coney Island, and back. In between, he throws in a trek up and down the pier for a total of six miles.
Atlas says that this winter, it's not the frigid temperatures that have been challenging, but the snow.
"The last snowstorm we had, I couldn't even run completely on the boardwalk," Atlas says. "I had to get off down by the amusement area and run on Surf Avenue. I had to do some streets. I had to follow the plows for only the second time in seven years."
After the jog, Atlas heads for a swim. He started his run-swim combination in 2007 to relieve stress as he dealt with his mother's deteriorating health. He says it keeps him sharp and focused.
"While I'm running, it keeps the memory of my mother alive," he says. "She was here when I started, and she's still with me on every run."
NY1 first featured Atlas in 2009, when he marked his 500th run. In 2014, he's still an attention-grabber.
"I ask the doctor how some guy can swim in the water like this, and they have no answer for that," says one person.
"It's very funny to me," says another. "I never see that in my life."
Atlas says that his goal is 4,000 consecutive runs. That would bring him to nearly 11 years.
In this harsh weather, he's surely shown dedication and endurance. How about some more clothes?
"I must remain in this outfit," he says. "It's just the way I started, and I don't want to change it. I don't want to change the mojo."
After all, it's helped keep him going for this long.