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John Johnson - Run to Lose Weight or Lose Weight to Run

John is from Theodore, Alabama, south of Mobile.  Any further south and you will be in Mobile Bay!  John followed the south Alabama herd to Auburn University after graduating from Theodore High School in 1981.  His Facebook page acknowledges that he “studied but couldn’t concentrate at Auburn University”.  John refers to the term “freshman 15” to describe the weight many collegian’s gain their first academic year.  John must have accidently enrolled in the agricultural studies program as he gained fifty pounds to a weight of 275 pounds.  He was deemed ready for market.  John dieted and lost forty pounds dining on the left-over prison food served in the university food service facility.

John found it more difficult to eat healthy the first summer quarter on campus.  He elected to run to supplement his diet.  He did not want to run on the track where the “real runners” were, so he elected to run inside the Auburn University Basketball coliseum.  As opposed to the campus streets, John has less risk in the day of pre-GPS watches of getting lost running in circles.  Six laps around was a mile, and he gradually increased to three miles a day without getting bored.  The three miles was a determined length based on a response from a fraternity brother to John’s inquiry about how far he ran.  The response must have made a significant impression on John as three miles has become his preferred distance for now over thirty years and counting.  John laments if the response had been five miles, “he would probably be a much better runner today!”      

John’s weight was down to 195 pound his sophomore year when he left the “lovely plains of Auburn” for the U.S. Air Force.  John was eight years short of being a lifer, only remaining in the Air Force for twelve years.  He continued in the Air Force running three four times a week to control his weight.  Now John “loses weight to run”.  John and the Air Force mutually parted career paths in 1995.  John injured his back in 1994 and was advised by the Air Force quack that examined him “to never run again”.  As an aside John’s duties resulted in travel to unusual locations.  His most memorable run was on a trail around a Norwegian Flystation (Norwegian for air base) while on temporary duty in Norway for a month.

The Air Force restored John’s ability to concentrate as he graduated from Georgia College and State University with a B.A. in Management, a second B.A. in Computer Based Information Systems, and a Master in Management Information Systems.  He must have liked Milledgeville as post-graduate John still resides there.  John pursued a career as a Systems Analyst with the Board of Regents, University System of Georgia, and now is a Senior Applications Systems Analyst at his Alma Mater.  

Despite continuous discomfort from his back-injury, John began to run again in 2004 after a nine-year hiatus and has continued running for fourteen years plus.  His first foray back into racing was the 2004 Macon Labor Day 5K, completed in 34:10.  Since that race, John has logged more than two hundred 5K and 10K races, a few half marathons, and one full marathon. John observes he “loves seeing all the people enjoying themselves and running for those age group awards and t-shirts”.  Because John has such a common name, he began to register as “Wheels Johnson”, an Air Force era nickname.  John lived in Athens in the 2012-2013 period and was active in the Athens Road Runners, Run and See Georgia Grand Prix, Black Bag Race Series, and Clover Glove Race series.   John “has met so many good friends out there” that he “could not imagine stopping now!”      

Bob checking out from the back of the pack. Look for the profile of legal wizard Erica Shepley, and Winder’s favorite Clydesdale Mark Polson.