Mansoor helps U.S. win cross country gold

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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When El Dorado Hills resident John Mansoor began helping his two children Alex and Jackie train for the Oak Ridge cross country team back in 2003, he never envisioned that it would lead to an eventual gold medal for his country. On July 7 that obscure idea became a reality for Mansoor, as he helped his United States team capture the gold in the 8-kilometer cross country run during the World Masters Track and Field Championships in Sacramento. Mansoor, 55, was temporarily forced to quit running at age 30 due to a back injury. Upon his son Alex (now 22) entering high school at Oak Ridge in 2003, he decided to help train his boy for the track and cross-country teams. A few years later, his daughter Jackie (now 18) followed the same path and began training under her father. “My kids were the only reason I began running again,” said Mansoor, who after training with the Oak Ridge track and cross country teams began considering entering to compete in the World Masters Championships. “I’d taken a lot of time off from running but I kept training more and more and as the kids grew faster, I grew faster, so I said what the heck.” Last year, Mansoor ran in the 10,000-meter run at the Masters Championships and took second place overall. The fact that the World Masters Championships were to be held in Sacramento in 2011 was more than enough motivation for Mansoor to continue training for this year’s event. In the 55-59-age group, Mansoor finished sixth overall in this year’s 8K cross-country run with a time of 29:55.1, second among US competitors. “It was great. My biggest goal in this event was to help my team win gold,” Mansoor said. “It’s a lot of fun to be part of a team victory rather than a personal one. It was a great experience.” Mansoor was slated to compete in last Wednesday’s 10,000-meter run but decided to withdraw due to hamstring problems. He also said that it is unlikely that he would participate in the marathon that took place on July 17. “At my age, my body is in charge, not me,” joked Mansoor, who also said that ironically, one of the toughest parts about his training for the Masters was the time that he missed in training the Oak Ridge kids. “It’s a great thing being able to coach these kids,” he said. “It’s a nice two-way street for the kids too. I teach them how to train and race in a very team-oriented place with a lot of emphasis on team success and they’ve coached me as well. A lot of them came to watch and cheer me on.”