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Cross country runs in their family

Cross country runs in their family

Jacobsons join many others at cross-country series

Len Jacobson wasn't a star runner growing up on Gabriola Island, British Columbia.

The running boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s doesn't jog the 40-year-old father of three's memory, and he won't be among the favorites in next April's Pear Blossom Run.

Nonetheless, running has become a regular habit for the Central Point man, his wife Cheryl, 39, daughter Amanda, 15, and son Samuel, 14.

In recent summers the foursome have been regulars at the Southern Oregon Sizzlers Cross-Country Series at Bear Creek Park.

The Jacobsons were among the more-than-50 runners who toed the starting line Wednesday evening on the upper fringe of the park's amphitheater and joined the vast majority running the 5-kilometer race. Others ran a 2-kilometer course.

It was Samuel Jacobson, who got the family off and running.

I require my kids to do a summer project, and Samuel decided to do a 10K race, Cheryl Jacobson says. His goal was to get into shape.

At first, his father was his primary training partner as they prepared for the Bear Creek Greenway 10K five years ago.

It became a family thing by the end of the first year, says Cheryl Jacobson, who rode her bike alongside Samuel back then. I didn't want him running by himself.

The only member of the family who hasn't caught the running bug is 12-year-old Caleb.

While Len Jacobson says he wasn't particularly athletic in high school, Cheryl played basketball and volleyball while attending high school and Northwest College in Kirkland, Wash. When their children were small, the Jacobsons hiked and biked, but running wasn't on the agenda.

We did things we could involve the kids in, Cheryl Jacobson says.

Once Samuel Jacobson began pounding the pavement and hitting the trail, he was hooked. He now looks forward to the weekly family runs near Gold Ray Dam or places such as Diamond Lake.

He ran cross country at Scenic Middle School and plans to participate for Crater High's team this fall. He finished first or third in all of his regular-season meets last year.

I never got second, Samuel Jacobson says.

He was 13th at the district meet.

Once her brother was on the run, Amanda Jacobson was quick to follow.

I wanted to go see what I could do, says Amanda, who ran for Crater's junior varsity as a freshman last year and hopes to challenge for a varsity spot this fall.

We kind of compete good-naturedly. But mostly we're just active.

St. Mary's track and field and field coach Joe Volk

began putting on summer cross-country runs a decade ago.

Volk thought it might be a nice change of pace for runners wanting to escape asphalt surfaces.

Most people who are into road runs are not going to set personal records on this course, says Volk. It's a different kind of running. The terrain is undulating, and running on grass is slower. If you go out and run a 5K on the Pear Blossom course, it's going to be a lot faster.

But runners, who compete from week to week can gauge their progress.

Art Coolidge

moved to the Rogue Valley in 1987 and has been among the top local runners in his age group.

His son Trevor will be a senior at St. Mary's. and was the Class 2A runner-up in last year's state cross-country meet.

The two run together regularly and most recently competed in the Siskiyou Outback 15-kilometer race along the Pacific Crest Trail on the backside of Mount Ashland earlier this month.

But on Wednesday, Art Coolidge, who turns 55 next week, was by himself, chasing one runner almost half his age and another younger than that to finish third in the 5-kilometer race.

Trevor is in Wyoming visiting relatives and training at 7,000 feet.

This is a nice break from road runs, he says.

Running has become a part of their lives for the Jacobsons of Central Point. Family members are, from left are Cheryl Amanda, Samuel and Len. - photo by Bob Pennell