Meet the Legend – Frank Bozanich

    Frank Bozanich

Frank finishes 1st overall at the Houston Running Festival 50 mile race December 28, 2013. Yes, he was 69-years-old at the time!

What criteria does one have to meet in order to be considered a “legend” in the world of running?  Is it covering over 170,000 lifetime miles, all on foot?  Is it running in over 100 races, covering distances from 100 meters to 100 miles?  What about being inducted into the American Ultrarunning Hall of Fame? Or giving back to your sport by coaching athletes of all ages and abilities?  Frank Bozanich clearly meets all of these criteria and is without a doubt a true running legend.

In honor of his 70th birthday on May 20, let’s get to know the one and only Frank Bozanich :-)

  • How many races do you think you’ve done in your lifetime?

Because of my age I would guess that in the 55 years of running to include JR HS, HS and College plus after graduation I have probably taken part in at least 1000 races from 100 meters to the ultras. I have enjoyed all of them and am so happy that I could participate in the different distances and all the various venues I have run in, from track & field, to road races and trail races. I have run in very hot weather,  some with heavy humidity, to extreme cold (minus 135 windchill & minus 65 ambient), have run in jungles, across deserts, across the arctic tundra, ran on the arctic ocean and a myriad of other places.

  • Of all of those races, which one would you consider your “race of a lifetime?”

I think my race of lifetime would really be a run of a lifetime as it was not a race unless you consider a run for life as a race. This took place in Vietnam and involved me running through incoming motar rounds and gunfire to save two wounded Marines and get them on a waiting medivac helicopter. It was probably my shortest race but the most meaningful to me.

Frank Bozanich running trails

Frank logging some of his 170,000 lifetime miles.

  • How many miles do you estimate you have covered over the course of your running career so far?

I have covered about 170,000 miles in my lifetime, must be ready for an overall award.  (HOLY SMOKES PEOPLE!!! 170,000 miles! My Element doesn’t even have that many miles on it!)

  • Do you have a favorite workout and why do you like that particular one?

I have run lots of workout in my lifetime and lots of  different ones. I would say that it depended on what I was preparing for. On the road for my longer races I always like to run about 15 miles and after 2 mile warmup would then run a hard/easy series in which I would run hard for so long with the same amount of rest as the hard effort. The series would be 1 min, 2 min, 3 min, 4 min, 5 min, 6 min and then repeat going back down to 1 min and then would go back up from 1 min to 3 min and then take a cool down. I learned this workout from Don Ritchie of Scotland who was one of the best ultra runners in the world.

  • What’s your favorite pre-race meal and beverage?

Favorite prerace meal is some kind of pasta or good carbo load but these only work for races beyond 1/2 marathon. I usually load up on carbs for 3 days prior to race. The night before I like French toast with some eggs and sausage. Before the 1979 National Championship for 100k in Miami this is what I ate for dinner and the morning I won the race and set American record for the distance. That became my lucky meal and have tried to have that for my prerace meal since. I have won many races on that diet since and of course have lost a few also, but nowadays blame the losses on age and not ability.

  •  How about after the race? Favorite post-race meal and beverage?

Post race meal is a good greasy burger with a beer.

Frank Bozanich Post Race

Enjoying a post-race beverage or two!

  • What has been your favorite place to run and why is it your favorite?

Damn this is tough as I have several places I have run that I loved and not one really favorite one. Loved San Diego area because of the great year around climate. Loved running in the Pacific Northwest because of the beauty of it with all the green and lushness of the woods. Truly loved running in Europe because of the great competition and friendliness of the people. This will seem hard to fathom but I loved running in the arctic because of the harshness of the land and the toughness that it built in me both physically and mentally. I had to be both to get out the door in the winter and face the very bitter cold and strong winds. All in all I love running where I am and one can beauty in whatever locale that you find yourself.

  • Do you have a “mantra” or phrase that you tell yourself to help keep you going when the going gets tough in a race or workout?

The one mantra I often use is “Maintain” , which I tell myself when I feel myself falling off the pace and it seems I use more now as I have gotten older and fall off the pace more. I used to and still do talk to myself and would also calculate in my head how far I was in front towards the end of races to mak e sure I could maintain the effort to the end or if I had to dig down inside to ensure I could carry the pace to the end.

  •   What is the biggest honor you’ve ever received?

My biggest honor so far has been the outpouring of support from my teammates on the team- the accolades bestowed on me from teammates I train with and those I have coached. The other honors would be  my induction into the American UltraRunning Hall of Fame, being named an AAU All American and being in the San Diego Hall of Champions.

Frank Bozanich in ultrarunning hall of fame

Frank was selected into the UltraRunning Hall of Fame.  And we know him.  How cool is that?!?

  • What advice do you have for beginning runners or runners who need motivation to keep pushing hard?

I think the biggest piece of advice I would give to new runners is to go into the sport with the idea of truly enjoying it. Make it fun and then you will enjoy it for rest of your life. Sure you can work hard but it still can be enjoyable and fulfilling. Take your time and build up to the hard work slowly. Do what you want to do in running and don’t let others tell you that you have to run a certain distance to be a real runner. I think that the sport should be something you enjoy doing and that you want to do for a lifetime. I know that I am a competitive runner but I also enjoy running purely for the sake of running. I would still run if I did not run another race and I also enjoy running with others and I think that is the best part of my running. The best part of running is not the Championships I have gained, nor the medals and accolades that I have received but it is all the friends I have made throughout the years and around the world.

frank with friends

 You can always count on Frank to make a workout fun! (With Debby Koch Bullentini and Corrine Casanova).

   To sum it all up…..if you don’t know Frank Bozanich, you are totally missing out!   Happy Birthday Frank and I hope you are blessed with many more years of beautiful running!