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John Loeschhorn Always Likes to Run With the Right Crowd

January 13, 1986|STEVE KRESAL | Times Staff Writer

Droves of spectators didn't cheer wildly when John Loeschhorn set seven running records. Nor did throngs of screaming well-wishers hoist him and parade around the track with Loeschhorn on their shoulders.

No medals were hung around his neck for national records he established at the distances of 20, 25, 30, 40, and 50 kilometers, along with 20 and 30 miles in the 40-44 age division of the Masters class.

About the only people to witness his accomplishments were those involved with the West Coast University ultra run on Dec. 26 in the Cerritos College Stadium. The lap counters noticed, as did the other 29 runners on the track whom Loeschhorn weaved past.

When Loeschhorn, 41, finished his final lap, he quietly walked off the track to receive the congratulations of a few family members and friends.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday January 15, 1986 Orange County Edition Sports Part 3 Page 5 Column 4 Sports Desk 2 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
The Times incorrectly reported Monday that distance runner John Loeschhorn was the boys' track and cross-country coach at Mission Viejo High School. Loeschhorn actually is a walk-on assistant at the school. Gene Gurle is head coach of track and field as well as the cross-country coach.

Area newspapers didn't even know about it. He had to call them.

The lack of fanfare is nothing new to Loeschhorn. After finishing eighth overall, and first in his age group in the Orange County Marathon last November, he sat quietly for 30 minutes in the post race press conference. No one asked him a question.

He wasn't even introduced to the media covering the race.

Such is life for runners who don't compete at the international level.

Loeschhorn had entered the West Coast race to go after national records. Although he is satisfied with the seven records, the one he really wanted was for 50 miles. But he started too fast and could not maintain a fast enough pace to break that record.

"He came up to me and apologized for not being able to do more," said Lee Preble, race organizer. "But if one takes into account that he did all he did with 29 other runners on the track, it is more of a testimony to his accomplishments in the race."

For runners such as Loeschhorn, the motivation to compete comes from an inner desire to run every day.

"It's definitely not boring," Loeschhorn said. "I don't wear a Walkman when I run. People that do that are trying to block out the experience of running and I want to experience it 100%. . . . I run for the pleasure of it. I would never run just to stay in shape.

"Running is the best exercise for me. I'm so dedicated to it that I just don't ever see myself stopping. It's just too bad there is no way I can make a living at it."

Because Loeschhorn, who lives in Irvine, can't make a living by competing, he did the next best thing. He owns a running-oriented shoe store in Mission Viejo.

Another Loeschhorn running store in Fountain Valley is owned by his business partner, Dave Reynolds.

Runners came to him for advice so often that he decided to become a coach, and he now leads the cross-country and track and field teams at Mission Viejo High School.

Besides offering specialized tips for the individual runner, he has advice on how to prevent major injuries--something he has done through 27 years of running.

"I only have one major rule about running," he said. "If the body hurts, don't run. There have been plenty of times when I have just sat on the bank of the Santa Ana River and watched the ducks swim by when I'm tired."

Loeschhorn enjoys competing in Southland races. He does not like to run in large crowds, which is why he stays away from major races such as like the Boston and New York Marathons.

"I don't like crowds," he said. "There are many fine small marathons around Orange County. Los Alamitos has one of the best but nobody ever hears about it. So is the one in Long Beach . . . I wouldn't run in either the New York or Boston race unless someone was going to pay me to do it . . . And I don't think we have to worry about that."

The success he enjoys as a runner started 28 years ago when he entered high school in 1958. As a miler at Franklin Lakes High School in New Jersey in 1961, he ran the country's fourth-best prep mile in 4:17.

Loeschhorn competed in the mile, and cross-country at New York University. After graduation, he entered the Air Force, where he became an air traffic controller, and started to run longer races. In 1969, he competed in his first marathon, the Grandfather Mountain Race in North Carolina.

After leaving the Air Force in 1970, he continued to run and finally, in 1975, decided to make it more a way of life. He opened his first running store right as the running boom was taking off.

Loeschhorn's running suffered from 1975 to the middle of 1978, when he concentrated on running his stores instead of himself. In the span of three years, he ballooned from 138 pounds to 175.

Then, in the spring of 1978, he decided it was time to get back into serious running shape because he wanted to start competing again. It was not until April of 1981 that he felt ready.

This summer, he has established a lofty goal--one that starts at about 9,000 feet. In June, Loeschhorn plans to take part in the Western States Endurance Run. The race covers 100 miles from Squaw Valley in the eastern Sierras to Auburn in the foothills.

Runners that push themselves to these kinds of extremes are often viewed as crazy. But there is one bit of sanity in Loeschhorn's life.

"For me, the least desirable time to run is before 8 a.m.," he said.

Distance Record Name/Age Old Record Name 20 Kilometers 1:11:43 John Loeschhorn(41) 1:11:58 Truman Clark 25 Kilomters 1:29:43 John Loeschhorn(41) 1:31:16 Truman Clark 30 Kilometers 1:47:33 John Loeschhorn(41) 1:49:23 Truman Clark 20 miles 1:55:50 John Loeschhorn(41) 1:56:56 Truman Clark 40 Kilometers 2:27:26 John Loeschhorn(41) 2:33:11 Peter Jeffers 30 miles 3:04:15 John Loeschhorn(41) 3:06:16 Peter Jeffers 50 Kilomters 3:11:35 John Loeschhorn(41) 3:14:55 Peter Jeffers

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