Featured Runner: John T. Shapiro

When did you start running, and what got you into it?

Little did my high school (Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville, TN) track coach know that he would give me a lifetime sport.  It was about a week before our first track meet the spring of my junior year. The prior two seasons, I had been a high jumper and low hurdler.

He let me know that he wanted me to run the mile.  I was kind of surprised, but not totally.  I really didn’t have the speed for the hurdles nor the hop for the high jump.  I trusted and respected him and took on the challenge, thankful that he still had a place for me on the team.  While I did not set any records, I was a pretty competitive miler.

After college and as I was about to get out of the Navy, I started running some.  Then in early 1976, I decided I wanted to compete in/run the Peachtree Road Race 10K in Atlanta on July 4.  That year, there were 2000 runners.  These days, it is over 50,000.  I trained for it, enjoyed it, and finished, and my running career/adventure was on its way.

What are your favorite races?

First race I ever ran was the Talladega 5.  It was 2 laps around the 2.5 mile Talladega Motor Speedway on Saturday in May, 1976, a couple of hours before the start of the Winston Cup Racing weekend.  I wore a pair of K-Mart “running shoes.”  I still have the red finishers shirt they gave.  It is interesting/ironic that it has the image of a pack of Winston cigarettes on it.

Other favorite races include Callaway Gardens (GA) Marathon, Country Music Marathon and Half, and the Marine Corps Marathon.

What are your PRs for 5K, 10K, half, marathon, other?

I was fortunate to qualify for Boston in 1982 and ran it in 1983.  I had to qualify at or below 2:50 and got a 2:48, which is my marathon PR.  My best in the 10K is sub 35 minutes and I have run a 1:33 in the half.

Running accomplishment you are most proud of?

I look at my running accomplishments in light of family, health, and friends:

  • Running has become kind of a family sport for the Shapiro family. I have done a sprint triathalon and half marathon with my oldest son, I full marathon and half marathon with my second son, many races with my wife, and hope to do a half marathon with my daughter in February, 2016.
  • The other “accomplishment” would be the health benefits I have enjoyed from having an active life style.
  • The many friends I have developed over the years.

Funniest running encounter?

Since I have been running nearly 40 years (and thankful God has blessed me with my health and energy to do so), I have several to draw from:

  • I was “mooned” by an occupant of a passing car one afternoon while I was running in Huntsville, AL (unfortunately, you cannot unsee things like that).
  • A car hit me early one morning in Marietta, GA.  (no broken bones, but a good thigh bruse).
  • A police officer clocked me with a speeding gun in Birmingham, AL (it was a slow, early Sunday morning for him . . . got me at 8 miles an hour in a 35).

What running means to me, in no particular order . . .

  • A sport I can take with me just about anywhere I can go.
  • Enjoy sightseeing when on a business trip or visiting new places.
  • The base activity of an active and healthy lifestyle to take care of the physical body the Lord has given me.
  • Therapy . . . a good run helps me “air out” my brain and work through issues in my life. As most have heard, it is cheaper that seeing a therapist.
  • Registering for races gives me goals to keep me motivated.
  • Provides a way for me to “compete” and keep a little edge in life.

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