Since Adventures In Running came into being, we have made it a priority to provide information and editorial that is culturally significant and occasionally humorous, but always of the highest caliber. Today is no exception and I am honored to introduce a guest that will provide class and professionalism superior to our daily standards. None other than U.S. Olympic marathoner and 1st place time trials winner, Jenny Spangler. On a tricky course consisting of rolling hills, the 32-year-old Spangler crossed the finish line at 2:29:54 to win the Olympic trials and beat the best female runners the United States had to offer.
Dave (AIR) – Hi Jenny, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with Adventures In Running and welcome you to our forum. You must have some great stories to tell.
Jenny Spangler – Thanks, Dave! I started running in the Spring of 1978 and have had many great adventures along the way which I enjoy sharing.
Dave (AIR) – If you could describe your running philosophy in one sentence, what would it be?
Jenny Spangler – Don’t be a slave to your watch or other digital devices. ENJOY!
Dave (AIR) – You were ranked 61st fastest going into the Olympic trials. How confident were you that you could secure a spot for Atlanta?
Jenny Spangler – I was not confident at all! My training had been going extremely well and my coaches (Joe Douglas and Willie Rios) had told me that if I had a perfect day I could possibly be in the top 3. The reality was that I hadn’t run a good marathon since I won Grandma’s in 1983 so deep down I didn’t think I had a chance.
Dave (AIR) – You are credited with the greatest upset ever at the Olympic trials, what went through your mind when you realized you were going to win?
Jenny Spangler – I was in complete shock. I really didn’t believe that I was going to win until I saw the finish line just ahead of me. I kept waiting for someone to zoom past me.
Dave (AIR) – When you trained with the Santa Monica Track Club, I read that Carl Lewis paid for some of the expenses. Did you get the opportunity to work with him?
Jenny Spangler – Carl is an extremely nice and approachable person. We spoke fairly often and we would sometimes be doing workouts on the track at the same time. He trained in Houston under Tom Tellez so I didn’t see him regularly when I trained in Santa Monica.
Dave (AIR) – Most runners experience an injury at some point. As a successful runner, what is your advice for those who may be struggling?
Jenny Spangler – As hard as it is, you need to be patient. You cannot ignore your injury – it won’t magically go away. There are SO many cross-training opportunities these days so explore a new activity and use this time to do more stretching and strength training. I fell in love with the bike once when I was injured and incorporate it now into my training.
Dave (AIR) – You created Jenny Spangler Racing in January of 2008. Please tell me more about JSR for anyone who may wish to join.
Jenny Spangler – We are a small group of runners who enjoying training and racing together. On a run in 2007 someone mentioned that we should start our own racing team since we like to run together so much so we made it a reality in 2008. The fact is that we all have families and have work obligations so we run together when we can but we all feel like family and our families get together for picnics and other socializing. Our team mission is: “Provide a fun yet disciplined team running environment that motivates each athlete to reach their full potential through camaraderie and hard work.”
Dave (AIR) – The USOC says a gold medalist in the Olympics get $25,000, a silver medalist $15,000 and a bronze winner $10,000. What do you think of the recent bill being proposed by Senator Marco Rubio that exempts medal winners from paying a tax for those winnings?
Jenny Spangler – I absolutely support it 100%. These athletes have spent countless years of hard work and expenses to fulfill their Olympic dream and represent the United States of America.
Dave (AIR) – You have a magnificent career, a wonderful family and a spectacular racing team. Is there a dream or goal you still desire to accomplish going forward?
Jenny Spangler – A few things: I turn 50 years old in July 2013. I have had several injuries and other distractions over the past several years but I would like to get back to competitive racing by the time I turn 50. Will I set PR’s – most likely, “no” but I would like to be competitive in Master’s races at the National level. I also have a goal of getting youth more involved in running here in the Northern Suburbs but I haven’t put a plan in place yet – more to come!!
Dave (AIR) – Aside from anything Olympics related, what has been your most pleasant memory?
Jenny Spangler – Watching both my step-daughter, Kristina (now 24) and my daughter, Kelli (10 years old) “find” running and get excited about it. It is great to watch people fall in love with the sport!
Dave (AIR) – Is there anything you are never asked, but want people to know about Jenny Spangler?
Jenny Spangler – I joined the track team my Freshman year of high school because I was cut from the basketball team and my parents told me that I had to be involved in an extra curricular activity.
Dave (AIR) – Thanks again Jenny for granting me this interview and I wish you much success in your future races and plans for youth involvement in the sport.
Jenny Spangler – Thank YOU! This has been fun! I look forward to seeing you at the races!
Jenny’s very impressive running accomplishments:
Life Time Personal Bests
Distance Time Year
1 Mile 4:54 1986
3K 9:22 1986
5K 16:08 1982
4 Mile 22:30 2004
8K 27:33 2004
10K 33:39 1983
12K 44:05 2005
10 Mile 56:55 2004
20K 1:15:05 1994
½ Marathon 1:13:48 1994
25K 1:31:05 2005
Marathon 2:29:54 1996
Career Racing Accomplishments
1982 – Led University of Iowa Women to Iowa’s first Big 10 Cross Country Championship
1983 – 1st Place Grandma’s Marathon, Duluth, MN 2:33:51
(World Age Group Record for Females 19 and Under – no longer current record)
(American Age Group Record for Females 19 and Under – still current record)
1984 – 2nd Place Houston-Tenneco Marathon, Houston, TX 2:36:52
1984 – Inaugural US Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials Participant, Olympia, WA 2:40:18
1988 – US Olympic Marathon Trials Participant, Pittsburgh, PA 2:44:59
1996 – 1st Place US Olympic Marathon Trials, Columbia, SC 2:29:54
1996 – Olympic Marathon Participant, Atlanta, GA
2003 – 1st Masters Female Chicago Marathon, Chicago, IL 2:32:38
(American Masters Record – no longer current record)
2004 – 9th Place US Olympic Marathon Trials, St. Louis, MO 2:36:30
(1st Masters Female)
2005 – World Championships ½ Marathon Participant, Edmonton, Alberta
Running Related Awards and Achievements
1983 – NCAA All-American Track & Field 10,000 Meter Run
1983 – NCAA All-American Cross Country
1986 – Robert F. Ray Award given for academic and athletic excellence to one athlete in the University of Iowa Women’s Athletic Program
1987 – Inducted into the University of Iowa Women’s Track & Field Hall of Fame
1996 – CARA Gold Medal Award (Chicago Area Runner’s Association)
2003 – CARA Gold Medal Award (Chicago Area Runner’s Association)
2007 – Inducted into the RRCA Hall of Fame (Road Runner’s Club of America)