Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Coach Passes Running Devotion to Students

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Coach Passes Running Devotion to Students

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Boyd, County Line columnist

There's a real-life running legend among us, and his name is Jay Birmingham.

You may have seen or even met Jay Birmingham, who is in his first year of teaching and coaching track and cross-country at St. Johns Country Day School.

What you might not know is that in 1980, Birmingham ran solo (as in no support team at all) from Los Angeles to New York City with nothing more than a backpack, arriving 71 days, 22 hours and 59 minutes later.

As a result of that amazing achievement, he still holds the record.

Lest you think he has mellowed in his pursuit of running accomplishments, last year, Birmingham improved his personal record in the Badwater 135-mile race by 10 hours.

Did I mention that the event is in Death Valley, Calif.?

Birmingham has logged more than 150,000 miles since he began running about 40 years ago.

His passion seems to be having an effect on this year's St. Johns track team. The girls team remains undefeated after five meets, including the school's first all-Clay County meet championship at Middleburg on March 14. The victory was highlighted by first-place finishes in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays.

What's even more impressive is that the 1,600-meter relay team is composed of all sixth-graders, and the 3,200-meter team is all seventh-graders.

Seventh-grader Kara Moore is unbeaten in the 1,600 and 800 with personal records of 5:45 and 2:37, respectively. Amanda Martorana, a sophomore and the team's top scorer, has won all her 100- and 200-meter races.

Birmingham's boys team has a great one-two punch in distance running. Chris Holstein and Rob Hoffman have taken turns winning the 1,600, with Hoffman holding a best time of 4:47. Holstein is tops in the 3,200 with a season-best 10:11.

Other boys team highlights include consistently good performances by Eric Clayman; Jassen Carter, one of the top 400-meter runners in the area; and Ryan Hudson, who Birmingham says is the team's workhorse. …

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