Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, March 15, 2015
Manhattan not Morristown
It’s pretty cool when a local runner is getting national headlines like John Trautmann of Morristown did last week. Let’s Run and Masters Track picked up the story that Trautmann had almost captured the world record for the 1,500 in his age division. His time of 3:59.47 came close to the record of 3:57.91 held by Tony Young of Washington state. Trautmann had already broken the indoor M45 mile record in 4:12.33 in February.
Runners in New Jersey who follow track racing were scratching their heads about a former Olympian living among them who they had never seen out training or at any local competitions.
Turns out Trautmann, while certainly a star athlete is not a star athlete living in Morristown.
“I was born at Morristown Memorial hospital,” relates Trautmann, whose family moved from their home in Chester when he was still a young child. He grew up just across the border in New York state, where he developed as an athlete at Monroe- Woodbury high school.
How did a mistake like that happen? It started with his needing to send a copy of his birth certificate to the national USATF office in Indianapolis to establish his credentials of being 46 years old. Then in order to run at the national meet two weeks ago in Boston the meet director asked for proof of age also.
“When I sent it to him he wrote up a little bio on me for the meet. For some reason he used that [Morristown] as my home town.”
While Trautmann may not live in New Jersey, he is close, living just across the river in Manhattan. He does have connections though as a summer resident at Ocean Grove.
Trautmann’s story has appeal wherever he lives. He was an outstanding high school athlete and broke Steve Prefontaines 3,000 meter high school record in 8:05.8. After college he went on to the highest level, making the 1992 Olympics team. Suffering from a troublesome toe he did not reach the finals at the Olympics and with the toe still a problem he dropped out of competing entirely. Like many of us less elite folks, over the next few years he managed to gain a bit of weight – in his case over 60 pounds.
Six years ago Trautmann took a hard look at what he had let happen to his body. He reconnected with Frank Gagliano who had been his coach at Georgetown University. Gags, as he is known is now the coach for the NJ/NY Track team that has many members living in New Jersey. Troutmann changed the way he ate and began to run again. He has lost those 60 plus pounds and under Gagliano's coaching has brought himself back to the elite level where he once was.
Troutmann recognizes that his story may be inspiring others to look at improving their health and fitness as he has done.
“The one thing that excites is that when you get older and out of shape you can still get back again,” he said.
“It takes awhile and you make small goals and achieve them and if you stick with it you can still do it,” he said. He acknowledges that not everyone can set records but they can still be back to where they once were.
Inspiring stories have their setbacks too. This past Tuesday night at the NY Armory Troutmann was set to lower his M45 mile record and catch a 1,500 meter split that could be a record as well. He was well seeded with men who could help in the effort. But only 200 meters into the first lap another runner caught the back of his shoe and tore it off. Troutmann ran for a lap with one shoe on and one shoe off, then realizing that it was foolish to continue he stepped off the track. He says the season is over for him and he will wait until the 2016 indoor season to go for that elusive record.
First New Jersey Championship next Sunday in Piscataway
The Miles for Music 20K in Johnson Park in Piscataway is next Sunday, March 22nd. It marks the beginning of the USATF New Jersey championship races.
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at www.usatfnj.org or at www.raceforum.com for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at firstname.lastname@example.org.