One day in 2008, a good friend of mine, Mike Greenblatt, walked out of his home in West Long Branch and started his day with a daily run when he came across a stray black kitten. For a couple of days, the kitten sat on the hill across the street and watched Mike as he ran by morning after morning. After a few weeks, the kitten stopped watching Mike run and started to run alongside him, usually leading the way.
Mike adopted the kitten and named her “Roadrunner”. She’s been his running partner ever since. People would see the two of them running down the street. Eventually, the cat became an international celebrity, a media sensation, and possibly the World’s Most Famous Rescue Cat.
Mike – a former Mr. New Jersey, celebrity physical fitness trainer and actor/model – trains Roadrunner like he would a human athlete. Speed drills, long distance drills. . .you name it, she’s done it with him. The training pays off. Roadrunner used to run 150 yards to the end of his block and back in around two minutes. Now she does it in just 54 seconds.
Over the last several years, Mike began marketing the cat’s penchant for long distance running, billing the cat as “Roadrunner, America’s Only Long Distance Running Cat”.
In December 2010, an author who has written books for 20 years approached Mike about using Roadrunner’s story for a children’s book. Roadrunner’s story is indeed inspirational – a stray cat whom nobody wanted finds a friend who helps find her niche in life and becomes highly successful. Roadrunner’s book is with a top literary agent and is presently submitted to 16 of the biggest publishers of children’s books.
On March 1, 2011, Roadrunner appeared on AOL’s Newsfeed as One of the Top 10 News Stories in the World. That same evening, Roadrunner’s YouTube video received over 150,000 hits.
In November 2011, Purina flew a production crew in from St. Louis, Missouri to film Roadrunner. Purina has used Roadrunner’s story in several of their advertising video campaigns over the last couple of years. In January and February 2012, Roadrunner’s Purina video was the number one video on Purina’s Petcentric Website with over 20,000 views.
Roadrunner has been featured on NBC TV News, People Magazine’s PEOPLEPETS.COM, Cablevision, the Animal Planet TV’s “Must Love Cats” program, Glamour Magazine, and The Asbury Park Press. She has also been filmed and photographed by the Associated Press.
This feline phenomenon has become so well-known that she was recently honored by having a horse race run in her honor at Monmouth Park Race Track. After the race, Mike was interviewed by the track’s video production unit, which was shown via closed circuit TV all throughout the race track as well as other tracks throughout the country who simulcast Monmouth Park’s races.
Mike counts his blessings every day when it comes to Roadrunner. “I was not looking for a pet. They say that pets find their owners. She definitely found me. More important than all of her fame, Roadrunner is my best friend and a wonderful companion who I love just like a member of my family.”
Roadrunner has a Facebook fan page (“Roadrunner the Cat”). You can check out all of Roadrunner’s TV show appearances, video, newspaper and magazine articles, and photo shoots, on Roadrunner's website
So what’s next for Roadrunner? Who knows? But the friendship between Mike and his long distance running cat continues on. Only in America. . .
(You can also follow Kevin Cieri's blog on his Facebook page, "Jersey Shore Retro" as well as on Twitter @jsretro).