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Running comes full circle for Franklin native

Jay Argo was once the best distance runner in Franklin High School history. He set Rebel’s school records in the mile, two mile, cross country as well as a member of the two mile relay record team.

Argo’s 1981 record mile time was 4 minutes and 20 seconds as a senior at Franklin. Before then, he remembers growing up in Leiper’s Fork in the early ‘70s and recalls why he first starting running.

“The (school) bus would drop me off a mile from my house about the same time Gilligan’s Island came on,” Argo recalls. “My favorite TV show was Gilligan’s Island, and the faster I could get home the more of the show I got to watch. I got to where I could run home in six minutes in junior high.”

The track team took notice of Argo’s speed during wrestling practice when he was beating the distance track runners. While breaking high school records, Argo competed in the Franklin Classic Run (formerly the CPS Cancer Run) and was the first local finisher in the 1981 race.

Argo walked-on the MTSU track team for one year before joining his college roommate in powerlifting after a track scholarship never came. Competing in powerlifting at the 148 weight class called for a diet change for the previously 129 pound runner.
“My main focus then was eating 30 grams of protein every three hours.” Argo said.

Argo, now 50, found himself weighing 210 pounds and had been out of his running routine for 30 years.

“I quit working out, I quit running and all of that. But I had developed a habit of eating 30 grams of protein every few hours. Think about that. That’s like seven eggs, three cans of tuna fish. You know it’s sad when you have to take a deep breath to tie your shoes because your stomach is in the way.”

 Argo knew this had to change, and his church, Tracy City Baptist Church, was just beginning their own “Run for God” program a year and a half ago.

“We met on Saturdays. My wife, unbeknownst to me, brings the yearbook clippings where I have all these records in races and runs. I hadn’t run in over 30 years. I was just thoroughly embarrassed looking and thinking how big I was, and they were showing everybody what I had looked like in high school.”

Argo joined the “Run for God” program at his church with baby steps mixing walking with light jogging. When weight started to come off he found something he’d been missing for 30 years.

“I started enjoying running again. Over a period of time you forget how good it feels to be in shape.”

At around 185 pounds he competed in the “Run for God 5k” in Dalton, GA and finished in 28 minutes. That is when he got the running “bug” back. Six months ago he looked up the Franklin Classic and is running in this year’s race September 2, 60 pounds lighter. The goal is to place in his 50-54 age group.

“The hardest thing now for me to do is to take a rest, because I’m so motivated to run. I thought if I got back into it then I’d want to do well. I was so competitive 30 years ago and even though you get older, you still want to compete.”


Posted on: 8/22/2013


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