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"Mrs. J" Runs First Race Ever

Anne Johnson, the mother of LetsRun.com's co-founders Robert and Weldon Johnson, ran her first race ever Sunday at the age of 56 in the famed Pennsylvania Mile in the person and dog division.  Weldon swears he gets his speed from his mother, yet perhaps you won't believe him from the time she ran, somewhere around 13 minutes for 1 mile.  But her racing debut was held back by the most famous dog in the world, Sugar, who at the ripe old age of 84, can barely run anymore.

Mrs. Johnson said the race was "great fun" and ran at the last second urging of son Robert.  Her and Sugar hoped to do "12 minutes", but the dog had some trouble in the second half of the race.  Mrs. Johnson says she may even start running a mile every day because she felt great afterwards.

For Mrs. Johnson, it marked actually her 2nd attempt at competitive running.  The first was 6 years ago at the age of 50, when Weldon, convinced that he got his speed from his mother, took her to the track to pace her in a mile with no training. They set off at 6 minutes a mile (maybe it was 7) not much above world record pace for a woman at that age -5:40 indoors.  Mrs. J made it a quarter mile  on pace before rightfully calling it a day.

And as for the dog Sugar, it was perhaps the happiest day of her life.  She had seen Weldon and Robert when they were young lads racing the cross-country in high school and getting beat so badly. However, she never gave up on the boys and takes some of the credit along with famed coach JK for  their late success.  Sunday, she finally got her chance to race on her own at the age of 84.  As recently as last fall, Sugar was still good for the last 10 minutes of a run with Weldon, but her age has quickly caught up with her. Nonetheless, when reached afterwards for comment she was pleased, "I gave it my all. I've been waiting all my life for this day.  Plus, I got to sniff a lot of other dogs."

Sugar's former chieg rival, Ginga, dog of Robert's roommate Victoria Lynch, came home first in the woman and dog category. She and Sugar used to have harsh words for one another, but now they are friends.  Ginga after the race said, "Sugar brought me into the great sport of running.  I owe this victory to her and of course Victoria."

AndMrs. Johnson may be the key to lack of publicity for running in the United States. In her first race ever, she got more publicity than most runners ever do in their lifetimeswith mention in the Washington Post. Click here to see the article and read about the professionals athletes.

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