For Rockville 'joggler,' Baltimore marathon is a stage

Barry Goldmeier, The Joggler, will be entertaining fellow runners as well as spectators as he runs the 26.2 mile Baltimore Marathon course while juggling. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun video)

For marathoner Barry Goldmeier, it's not about winning or losing, but the show he puts on during a race.

Goldmeier is a jogger who juggles — anything from footballs to baseball bats — while running. Or maybe he's a juggler who jogs. For short, folks call him The Joggler and, on Saturday, he'll strut his stuff in the Baltimore marathon.


For 26.2 miles, Goldmeier, of Rockville, will hustle down city streets while performing for racegoers and fans alike. Just what he'll juggle, he won't yet say.

"I may wear a Cal Ripken jersey and an Orioles cap and juggle these," he said, deftly keeping three 18-inch wooden bats — one signed by Nick Markakis — in the air simultaneously. "Or I might do three footballs while dressed as [Ravens' quarterback] Joe Flacco."


That's how he ran the race in 2013, wearing a Flacco mask.

Or he might juggle five red beanbags while wearing his favorite T-shirt which reads, Everybody Loves A Nut.

"I usually only wear costumes in the Baltimore-Washington area," said Goldmeier, who runs about 25 U.S. marathons a year. "Once I dressed as [NBA star] LeBron James in Akron (James' Ohio hometown) and juggled three basketballs."

His antics have wowed crowds at the Baltimore Running Festival for seven years though Goldmeier, 50, has been joggling for half of his life. His other props include beanbags (five in all), tennis racquets and mini-hockey sticks. It's a mobile circus act crammed with behind-the-back, between-the-legs and cross-handed stunts that would be challenge enough if he weren't on the run.

"For me, it's just a goofy hobby," said Goldmeier, a government statistician by trade. "But I've been doing this for so long, I don't know what I'd do without it."

Last week, he ran the Chicago Marathon; on Sunday, he'll tackle Atlantic City.

"My wife can juggle too, so she puts up with this," he said.

A graduate of West Nottingham Academy (Cecil County), where he ran cross country, Goldmeier began juggling as a child but didn't mix his two interests until he attended a juggling festival at what was then Loyola College in 1989.

"They had a race there, and I entered," he said. Losing only egged him on. Now he's a fixture on YouTube.

"I'm not too focused on my race times," said Goldmeier, who'll finish most marathons in six hours or less. "Typically, I'll start a race last, so I have my space. Sometimes I'll stop if someone wants to take a picture. Or I'll stop just to see where I'm going. If there are walkers in front of me, I'll quit juggling, run around them and then start up again.

"I can see peripherally but I've fallen before, mostly because a (traffic) cone was there and I was looking up. Once, in a December race, I hurt my wrist and bruised my ribs. I was dressed as Santa that day."

Each race has its caveats. During the New York Marathon, Goldmeier won't juggle on bridges because of the wind. Drops happen; he simply picks up what fell and forges ahead.


"A dropped beanbag is no problem, even if it's stepped on," he said. "I don't like to drop footballs because they're hard to chase down. And basketballs can really roll away."

Nothing has ever gone down a sewer.

"Other runners make jokes when I drop something," he said. "They'll say, 'You've got to start over.'

"I tell them, 'I'm glad you're not an official.'"

Other comments run the gamut, Goldmeier said.

"Can you show me how to do that?" people ask of his joggling.

"Sorry," he'll say. "I'm busy now."

Others ask if he's available to entertain at parties. Some try to guess what he does for a living.

"I've heard everything from clown to brain surgeon," he said.

Dogs, Goldmeier said, are the bane of his performance:

"I've had them pick up beanbags and take off running. What do I do? What can I do? Dogs are faster than me."

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