Gophers honor Johnson’s legacy with run at Les Bolstad Saturday

Mark Remme

The Minnesota women’s cross country team will rest its top runners again this week as the Gophers prepare to host Jack’s Run Saturday, a 10 a.m. race at Les Bolstad Golf Course.

The 5-kilometer event is open to the public, meaning anyone can compete in the race. There are no fees – only on a donation basis – and proceeds will go to the Jack Johnson Endowed Scholarship and the Angel Foundation.

Jack Johnson was active in the University community for over 40 years and worked closely with the cross country team as an equipment manager for at least 20 years during coach Gary Wilson’s tenure.

When Johnson died of cancer in February 2006, the run became instituted to give scholarship opportunities to students as well as allow proceeds to help families with relatives going through cancer treatment.

“When Jack went through it, there were a lot of expenses,” Wilson said. “Families need help both financially and emotionally during those times.”

Wilson said given that the event is more of a fundraiser than an actual cross country event, coupled with a way to keep Johnson’s legacy linked to the Gophers’ program, it’s a far different week than any normal preparation for competition.

“It’s an emotional week,” Wilson said. “He loved this team and he loved the ‘U.’ “

Race notes

• Coming off a fourth-place finish last weekend at the pre-NCAA meet, Wilson said he’s impressed by senior Ladia Albertson-Junkan’s recent performances after battling flu-like symptoms early in the season.

• The Minnesota men’s cross country team is idle again this weekend. The team will return to competition next weekend for the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, Ohio.