The RUN Statement


It was a case of life imitating art—the fine art of SAS programming, that is! 

I had arranged the perfect 4-day weekend.  I would take the train to Philadelphia on Saturday.  Run the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday.  Visit with my friend Frank DiIorio and his wife April on Monday.  And take the train back to Washington, DC on Tuesday.

Frank is one of the smartest SAS professionals I know.  He has been using SAS for over 30 years, wrote one of the first books on SAS programming, presented numerous SAS conference papers, and chaired the SouthEast SAS Users Group a couple of times.  He lives in northern Philadelphia, not far from Manayunk where the marathon would run up one side of Main Street, loop around, and then run down the other side of the street.  The plan was for me to look for Frank around mile 18.5 going into Manayunk and then again around mile 20.6 heading out of town.  He thought he could get a picture or two of me running by.

When I got to the 18.5 mile mark, I was surprised to see that Frank had both a camera and a sign.  It wasn’t one of the usual signs one sees among marathon spectators such as:

  • Run random stranger run!
  • Don’t start Walken (with a picture of actor Christopher Walken)
  • May the course be with you!
  • If a marathon were easy, it would be called your mother.
  • Why do all the cute ones run away?

Nope! Instead, it was a sign with a SAS program on it:

Michael Raithel
Michael Raithel and the RUN Statement. Photo courtesy of Frank DiIorio.

You see; when I passed him at mile 18.5 on my way out, I had 7.7 miles to go until the finish line.  When I passed him again on my way back, I had 5.6 miles to go.  It’s all in the program!

A joke between two long-time SAS programming professionals?  Sure.  But, given that SAS is used at more than 60,000 sites in over 135 countries, including 90 of the top 100 companies on the 2011 FORTUNE Global 500® list, I would bet some of the other runners got it.

Frank’s sign had me smiling all the way to the finish line!

Learn more about Michael Raithel and his latest book How to Become a Top SAS Programmer on his author page.



About Author

Michael A. Raithel

Senior systems analyst for Westat and SAS Press author

Michael A. Raithel is a senior systems analyst for Westat, an employee-owned contract research organization in the Washington, DC area. An internationally recognized expert in the use of SAS software in mainframe and UNIX environments, he is the author of over 25 SAS technical papers and is a popular lecturer at SAS Global Forum and at regional SAS conferences. He has written four books for SAS; the most recent book is How to Become a Top SAS Programmer. A copy of the first edition Tuning SAS Applications in the MVS Environment, resides in the Smithsonian Institution of American History’s Permanent Research Collection of Information Technology.


  1. Kristen Schneider on

    As a marathon runner myself, that sign would have made me smile! I've always wondered how many SAS professionals are runners too.

    • Michael A. Raithel on


      I would bet that SAS professionals are well represented in the running community. We tend to be overachievers at work _AND_ at play.

      Hope to see you whiz by me in a future marathon!

      Best of luck in all your SAS endeavors!

      ----Michael A. Raithel

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