Monday, July 12, 2010

Runner in the Spotlight: John Compton

John Compton is one of Charlotte's fastest males, usually giving Jordan Kinley a run for his money. A Wake Forest graduate of 2008, he now teaches history at Providence Day High School, a long time friend / athlete of Ben Hovis. John is best known for his storytelling abilities, his track/XC records at PDS, and his good heart. PS, ladies, he is single.

Where do you work?
I teach History and coach XC /Track at Providence Day School.

How long have you lived in Charlotte?
All my life, though much of it was technically spent in the lovely town of Matthews.

When and why did you start running?
After years of playing baseball, basketball, and a bit of soccer, I realized that my only contribution to such sports was either getting hit by a pitch and then eventually stealing second base or running up and down the field/court and simply getting in the way of the other team. Also, as 5th grader I dominated capture the flag, which isn’t exactly a sport you can pursue competitively in high school or college. In 6th grade I went out for XC as a last attempt to prove that I had some athletic ability (side note: I wore jean shorts to the first practice, not one of my finer moments).

Was Ben Hovis your coach? Do you duel it out now in races?
Yep, he coached me from 8th grade all through high school. After a 10 year losing streak to Ben, I’ve finally won a few races against him recently, but once his Achilles heals up the battles are sure to return.

What do you love most about running?
I love just getting out on the road or a trail and shutting my brain off and letting my imagination wander while I move along. It is one of the best parts of the day, and sometimes it’s the only part of the day that I really have to think about work. Also, I don’t have to try and catch a ball.

What is your most memorable race?
One of my few wins for WF in college was a 5k at the Armory in NYC. The atmosphere there is just incredible, so pulling off the victory in front of a lot of people with a big PR just felt amazing.

What's your favorite restaurant in Charlotte?
Zeda Janes off Central has the best breakfast in town…but recently I’ve spent a lot of time at Cabo Fish Taco, fantastic!

What's your favorite place to run in CLT?
I’ve spent the past 13 years or so doing the majority of my runs at McAlpine, so while that may be my home away from home, lately I’ve really enjoyed running uptown and in the Dilworth area. My body doesn’t handle extensive mileage on the roads very well, so I still hit up McAlpine several times a week, however.

Favorite distance and PR?

Probably the 5k: 14:45 on the track. Now that college running is over, I’m starting to get into longer races. I had a blast running the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile (53:29) with Ben and Dan Matena earlier this year, so I bet that a longer distance like that will soon become a favorite.

What are your plans for the summer since you have the vacation?
I just finished teaching summer school for a couple of weeks, so now I have about 6 weeks to relax. I’m going to the beach with my family and I’m flying out to LA to see my best friend from high school. Otherwise, I’ll just be hanging out around here for most of it. I just bought a grill so there will be a lot of freshly cooked food, a lot of books read by other people’s pools, and, as long as I stay healthy, a lot of running.

Is it safe to assume that you and fellow CRC member Caitlin Chrisman are the fastest roommates in Charlotte?
I suppose so, but then again, I’m not exactly an expert on the living situations of all of Charlotte’s runners. Perhaps this is another summer project, but I fear it might involve some stalking with questionable legal ramifications…

What's the weirdest or funniest thing that's ever happened to you on a run?
I had the opportunity to spend about a month one summer in college studying in London. I use to run at the Hampstead Heath (an expansive, beautiful park outside the heart of the city) before class most mornings. If I ran early enough I often had much of the park to myself. One of these mornings just after dawn I was rolling along at a descent clip when I rounded a bend in the trail and saw five or six young women, aged roughly 18-22, dressed as fairies (and I mean decked out: the real deal complete with wings, crowns and wands) skipping along. While this may sound like a 20-year-old’s dream come true, it was far too bizarre (and early) to be exciting and I was actually a bit alarmed. When they saw me they began asking if they could, amongst other things, “grant my wishes”. I politely declined, unsure if I should laugh at them or be afraid of them, and explained that I really had to keep going. At this point they became very angry, began waving their wands and proceeded to chase me while putting a variety of “spells” and “hexes” on me. I probably ran the fastest 800 of my life after that. So far I’ve yet to turn into a frog or grow a third arm, but whenever something bad happens, I blame it on them.

How'd you feel after that CRC Cinco de Mayo run?
It’s a great tradition that I will never, ever, ever participate in again, although it did remind me why I swore off tequila several years ago.


  1. Love the fairy story! lol

  2. Hey John. Run faster.

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