Racing through history

Jeffrey Owen

Jeffrey Owen, a social science teacher at TPHS, has been running and swimming competitively since he was 10 years old. He attributes his introduction to racing to the Junior Lifeguards “Stud Ironman” race – an annual competition held in Long Beach consisting of a five-mile run and a three-mile swim. 

“I knew that I loved it from the very beginning,” he said. “It’s just stayed with me ever since.” 

The now-41-year-old ran his first triathlon during his junior year at UC San Diego. Since then, he has ran, swam and cycled his way through Ironman races in Mexico, Austria, New York and Arizona. The Ironman is a race consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26-mile run. It tests not only an athlete’s fitness of body, but their sharpness of mind, as the race can take upwards of 10 hours to complete.

In order to prepare for his races, Owen swam every day, biked 300 miles a week and ran at least 50 miles a week. While he may no longer be participating in full Ironman races, Owen frequently competes in smaller Southern California races like the Campagnolo Gran Fondo and the Oceanside Half Ironman. 

“Everyone’s more supportive [in smaller races],” Owen said. “We’re all there to enjoy each other’s company.”

Still, Owen maintains a strict workout routine, swimming several times a month, biking 150 miles a week, while running 30 miles a week.

While he has spent the majority of his athletic career as a runner, swimmer and road biker, Owen is always open to new opportunities. Last year, the four-time Ironman contestant discovered a passion for yet another racing sport: mountain biking. 

“Most guys go through a midlife crisis and buy a Corvette,” Owen said. “I got a big orange mountain bike.”

In recent months, he has participated in mountain biking races like the “Whiskey 50” in Prescott, AZ and the “Filthy 50” in the San Dieguito River Park.

Owen particularly enjoys the social aspect of mountain biking. 

“There are only so many books on tape I can listen to and it gets kind of lonely when you’re riding by yourself,” Owen said. “So it’s really nice to be able to get away and ride with a friend.”

As a full-time teacher and father of two, Owen does not yet plan to return to the full Ironman.

“The idea of getting the best time is probably in the past for me,” Owen said. “Now it’s just about having fun and enjoying the adventure.” 

Colin Cornforth

Most people spend their birthdays eating copious amounts of cake and relaxing cozy in bed.

TPHS history teacher Colin Cornforth, however, celebrated another trip around the sun by running 26.2 miles along the Seine and down the landmark-studded cobblestone paths of  Paris. 

Together with 52,000 other contestants, Cornforth ran the 2023 Paris Marathon on April 2. His running journey, though, began long before the 8:45 a.m. starting gunshot in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe. 

Cornforth began running in middle school and was part of the track and cross-country teams at Oceanside High School during his junior and senior year. After a lengthy hiatus, Cornforth’s love for the sport was rekindled about a year ago in April. 

“It’s just a perfect blend of meditation and working out,” Cornforth said. “You’re focusing on body awareness and your breathing and you can get very kind of lost in that and you get a really good workout at the same time.” 

His first race back was the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K in downtown San Diego, suggested by fellow history teacher Chris Drake who also participated.

“I ran that and I was like, ‘Okay, that went okay.’ And then one of the running groups I was in, this guy recommended that I do the America’s Finest City half marathon,” Cornforth said. 

His selection of the Paris Marathon was somewhat coincidental — or maybe just fate in action.

“I was talking to this woman who was running the Chicago Marathon and I knew I wouldn’t be ready for that because it was in October,” he said. “Then she said she would be running Paris on April 9 which happens to be my birthday, and I was on spring break.” 

Though the race ended up being held on the second not the ninth, everything else fell into place — Cornforth received his mandatory doctor’s note and signed up. 

“It worked out because Paris is a beautiful city and I love it,” he said. 

Cornforth spent many months training daily, including an especially grueling run on Sundays by the coast. 

Even with a hamstring strain weeks prior and a painful finish, Cornforth persevered and concluded the race with a time of 2:58:52 — an average pace of 6:44 minutes a mile. Cornforth did not just leave France with an impressive and improved time, his experience also left him with a sense of ‘joie de vivre,’ the French phrase for an exuberant enjoyment of life.  

“I tried to be very present and enjoy the beauty of Paris,” he said. “Anytime there was a station with music playing and people cheering I’d stop to give a fist bump … I wanted to enjoy it.”

To celebrate his triumph, Cornforth had dinner at an Argentine Rotisserie restaurant and cheered on Messi and Mbappe at a PSG game that night. 

Looking to the future, Cornforth hopes to keep growing and has a new goal of running the Boston Marathon next April – he was able to qualify with his Paris time. 

“So at a minimum, I’ve got to keep running for a year,” he said.

For other rookie runners with a desire to develop their skills, Cornforth suggests: “Start slow. Start small.”

Read on Issuu.

6 thoughts on “Racing through history

  1. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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