Frisby finding his running stride

In reality, Jan Frisby was just looking for a way to take a couple of inches off the midsection when he got back into running 10 years ago.

Running has done more for Frisby than help him drop a few pounds. It’s earned him national recognition.

The former School District 51 educator, who still lives in Grand Junction, won his 18th and 19th national age-group titles this summer at the USA Track & Field Masters Championships in Oshkosh, Wis.

Competing in the 65-69 year-old male division, Frisby took titles in the 5,000 meters and the 1,500 meters.

Running has always been a good release for Frisby.

“I let my mind wander when I run,” he said.

That is until he’s competing.

“When I race it’s just the opposite,” he said.

Basketball was always Frisby’s first love. He was on the 1962 Class AA state championship team at Cortez High School.

But he’d always run track, taking to the distance events after a disheartening attempt at trying the pole vault.

In the spring of that 1962 senior year in Cortez, he was the state AA 880-yard champion.

Basketball earned him a scholarship to Fort Lewis College in Durango. He then began a 24-year basketball coaching career in the Western Slope. He also coached track for 26 years.

As for his own running, “It’s always been going on but when I was coaching I didn’t have the time,” he said.

Feeling a bit overweight, he took up recreational running again in 1993.

That year, at age 491/2. He finished second in the first Rim Rock Run.

It helped that his wife, Linda, also likes to run.

“It’s a co-interest,” Frisby said.

Linda Frisby was a finalist in the 1,500 and the 5,000 meters at the 1999 and 2001 World Masters Championships.

Deciding he, too, wanted to compete in the national masters division in the early to mid-1990s, he increased his weekly training from 30 miles to 50 miles. Then he increased it to 70 to 80 miles per week.

From 1994 to ’99, Jan won 17 national titles in distances from 1,500 meters to half marathons.

He was the USATF National Runner of the Year and in the 50-54 year-old male division in 1994 and ’95. Four years later he was the USATF National Runner of the Year and the
Running Times Runner of the year in the male 55-59 division.

He then took some time off from running but found he was about 30 pounds over the weight at which he was most comfortable.

Now that he’s in the 65-year-old age category, he’s cut back his training a bit.

“I take a day off when I feel like it, watch football or the Rockies,” he said.

Shrugging off some sciatic pain and having to be fit for orthotics, he still manages to get out and enjoy the scenery and smells of an outdoor run.

The chance to compete against other racers with whom he’s developed a friendship over the years will keep him returning to national masters events. That was the most noticeable void left when he stopped competing in 1999.

“I missed that competition, and the camaraderie,” he said.


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