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Mansoor eager for cross country event

By: Matt Long
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After guiding his two kids through high school cross country and track seasons at Oak Ridge High, it’s now time for John Mansoor to reap the benefits of his training. Mansoor, 55, will compete in the 8-kilometer cross country event tomorrow, the 10,000-meter run on July 13 and the marathon four days later during the World Masters Track and Field Championships. An El Dorado Hills resident who works in Folsom as the executive director of the Pacific Association of USA Track & Field, Mansoor began running again after a 20-year hiatus when his son Alex, now 22, was preparing to entire Oak Ridge High as a freshman in 2003. His daughter, Jackie, 18, followed in her brother’s footsteps, running cross country and track upon entering Oak Ridge in 2007. Mansoor graduated from Mira Loma High School in 1973 and earned an athletic scholarship to Ohio State University, where he captained the Buckeye cross country team to a second-place finish in the Big 10 during his senior season before graduating in 1978. He continued to run, particularly marathons, through his 20s before a back injury led him to quit running at age 30. “Alex was getting ready to go to high school where he was going to run cross country and he needed a coach so I started running with him to help him out,” Mansoor said. “I ran with him and then Jackie came through and I ran with her. I was only running to help the kids out.” After a short time, Mansoor whipped himself into pretty good shape and his competitive juices started flowing again. Last year in his first race on a track in 30 years, he took second place in the 10,000-meter run at the Masters Track and Field Championships held in Sacramento. At 55, Mansoor said that Masters track is all about avoiding injuries. “There’s an old saying that your mind writes checks that your body can’t cash,” Mansoor said. “You’ve got to be patient and take it slower. It helped me that I had no competition goals. I was just there to train the kids, not to train me.” As a Masters athlete, Mansoor said that little injuries lead to big injuries so when something doesn’t feel right he stops training. “Injuries at this age knock you out for a month and then you lose a year of conditioning,” Mansoor said with a laugh. To train for the World Masters, Mansoor put in 70 miles of running a week, which includes a 20-mile run on the weekend. Alongside his trail running, Mansoor does one workout a week on the track. Mansoor’s goal for the World Masters is to help the U.S. cross country team win a medal. He said Australia is the team to beat, but the U.S., Great Britain, Mexico, Russia and Spain have competitive teams. “In the 10,000 meters, I just want to have fun,” Mansoor said. “The marathon, which is probably my best event, my first goal is to finish it. It’s probably my best chance I have to earn an individual medal, but at the same time, I haven’t run a marathon in 26 years.”