Women prepare for Jack’s Run

The fourth annual race honors former equipment manager Jack Johnson.

Max Sanders

The womenâÄôs cross country team will run the fourth annual JackâÄôs Run on Saturday to pay tribute to a longtime member of the womenâÄôs cross country family. Jack Johnson worked at the University of Minnesota for over 40 years, spending the last 15 of those years as equipment manager for the Gophers womenâÄôs cross country team. After passing away from cancer in 2006, Minnesota head coach Gary Wilson named the race after Johnson. The five-kilometer run is now in its fourth year. âÄúWe have a lot of parents that come and a lot of alums,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúItâÄôs a 5,000-meter race, everybody runs together men and women, and itâÄôs just kind of a nice day.âÄù Proceeds from the race are given to two groups: the Jack Johnson Endowed Scholarship and the Angel Foundation , which helps families of cancer patients pay for household bills such as groceries and gas. In preparation for the Big Ten Championships on Nov. 1 , Wilson will not have his top eight runners compete. Regardless, JackâÄôs Run will still be a big day of competition for some Gophers runners. The No. 9 spot on WilsonâÄôs squad for the Big Ten Championships is currently up for grabs, and JackâÄôs Run will be the last race to win that spot before the conference championship. âÄúItâÄôs a competition,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúEverybody from our No. 9 on down is running; this is a pretty major competition for those kids because theyâÄôre fighting for a spot.âÄù One runner to keep an eye on Saturday will be senior Jamie Cheever. Cheever finished 59th at the Griak Invitational but missed last weekâÄôs Pre-National meet due to illness. She ran for the first time since the Griak in practice on Wednesday, and JackâÄôs Run will give Wilson a chance to evaluate where Cheever is and if she could help the team next week at the Big Ten Championships. âÄúSheâÄôs obviously not 100 percent, but sheâÄôs making progress, and thatâÄôs why weâÄôre going to race her on Saturday,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúSheâÄôs going to get the nod [for the Big Ten Championships] as long as we feel sheâÄôs going to be able to contribute, but obviously the juryâÄôs still out, but sheâÄôs feeling a lot better.âÄù Joining Minnesota at JackâÄôs Run will be University of Wisconsin-Superior. The race starts at 10:00 a.m. at Les Bolstad Golf Course.