This walk wasn’t the first time with Bob Miller on the Kingsport Greenbelt. However, it was the first time I had to chased him. At 102 – Bob’s hard to keep up with, seriously.

Last year, I joined him on his 101st birthday as he sailed the zip lines at Bays Mountain. It rained this year, so he decided to walk the new Greenbelt East End Extension after the ribbon-cutting last week. The Wednesday, November 4th event was one of those virtual events with a handful of City of Kingsport personnel with masks speaking to an iPhone and Facebook carrying the live feed.

The formal event was short and sweet, and after a few speeches from Kingsport’s BMA and a Tennessee transportation official, the bronze scissors sliced a bright red ribbon. Even though the crowd dispersed fairly quickly, I looked around for Bob and saw him way off in the distance with his two walking sticks. I left the gathering and started to chase after him because I had one question to ask.

Getting older has given me pause over the past several weeks. After losing a pet and a few friends, reading an existential book titled “Until the End of Time.” Add to that the occasional workplace comments toward older staff and the regular quips from the proud Gen Zs in my household – it’s easy to understand how these thoughts can trip you up somedays and keep you from moving forward.

So watching a Centurian bust out of the gate at a virtual press conference had me intrigued. I grabbed my camera bag and tossed it on my back, and picked up the pace.

About a half-mile into my pursuit, I called out to him and let him know I was coming up behind. After I caught my breath, I asked him, “what gets you out of bed each morning?”

Maybe I was expecting a revelation, and perhaps it was. Without hesitation and precisely spoke as an Olympiad, Bob said, “I get up every morning at 5.45 am, and I walk at least a couple of miles to start my day.”

Looking for a more profound secret, I asked, “What about those mornings when you just don’t feel like getting out of bed?”

Without pause, he replied, “I do it anyway. I guess it’s a habit.”

There was one more thing Bob said while wrapping our walk. Early in my career, I had a chance to work with Bob’s son Robin Miller. Robert was a West-Point graduate and an early Kingsport developer who started the Kingsport Grocery Company and Willowbrook. I asked Bob how he was doing, and he said, “He’s 73 and just getting started.”

Research today indicates that around 0.02% of the human population reaches the 100-year-old mark. Considering that rare statistic, I always find it interesting to uncover a new piece of advice. Comedian Bill Murray recently spoke to Jimmy Kimmel and gave some advice about what it’s like to turn 70. One of his comments stuck out too. He said, “the funny thing about getting older is that people start watching you.”

Bob, I’m still watching and working on my routine. You keep moving forward, sir, and thanks again for the challenge.