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Coach John 

John Barbour joined Liberty as the coach in the spring of 2015. John has a long history with the sport of running that stretches back to the 1962 US-USSR track & field meet at Stanford University, where at age eight he became a fan for life after witnessing a world’s record in the high jump plus the final race of legendary sprinter Wilma Rudolph.

A decent but average distance runner in high school and Division III Whitman College, John began coaching in the 1980s as a graduate student at Emory University, working with women distance runners in cross country and on the track. His own running flourished resulting in PRs of 29:33 (10K), 49:25 (10 miles) and 2:19:26 (marathon).

After a hiatus from coaching (but not running) that included two years’ volunteer work in Northern Ireland, John moved to Cape Ann and from 1998 to 2001 coached the Gloucester HS boys’ middle-distance and distance runners in winter and spring track. An extraordinarily talented and motivated group, the GHS distance medley relay team set a national high school indoor record in March 2000 that has yet to be equaled.

Barbour’s coaching has ranged from beginning middle schoolers to post-collegiate athletes. From 1998-2006 he served as coach for his own club, the Greater Lowell Road Runners, coached cross country at Glen Urquhart School in Beverly (2006-2014), and started the indoor track program at Manchester-Essex Regional HS (2008-2014). He moved to Boston in 2013 and in addition to Liberty now coaches at Ursuline Academy, a Catholic girls’ school in Dedham for grades 7-12.

John is Senior Writer for New England Runner magazine. A two-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, he continues to compete actively — often alongside Liberty athletes — for Greater Lowell in USATF and other races. For nearly fifty years he has found joy in running, satisfaction in its inherent difficulty, and seeks to covey that to athletes he coaches of whatever age or experience level. “It’s humbling, “he notes, “to take a place in the line of Liberty’s great coaches, and an honor to be part of the great tradition that is the Liberty Athletic Club.”

Photo Credit: Jim Rhoades – from CoolRunning