PHOTO BY LAURIE GORDON
Jan Wright is shown trining for his upcoming 24-hour run.
HAMBURG — Jan Wright is the former chief of police of the Hamburg Police Dept.
Throughout his career wearing blue, Wright has seen and done pretty much everything a police officer can see and do — from making drug busts and keeping his town’s streets safe to working on a missing child case that landed him in Texas to reunite a young girl with her family. On May 20, Wright will harness his police training and athletic background to complete as many one mile loops at the Sussex County Fair Grounds as he can in 24 hours. It will test him both physically and mentally, but Wright is determined to give it his all in the name of raising funds for One Step Closer Animal Rescue (OSCAR).
Wright began running when he was 13 years old when his uncle and Aunt, from California, came to visit.
“At that time recreational running was the new fad. They told me about running in marathons and other races. During their visit I would run with them. After that I ran just to run,” he said.
Wright's first long distance race was a half-marathon at Fort Monmouth when he was 19.
“I saw an advertisement in a newspaper and decided I wanted to run the race. At the time I had never ran further than six miles,' he said. “I finished and was happy with my performance. I took a few years off from running races and only ran to stay in shape. I believe in 1993 I entered the Warwick Marathon. When I finished I felt as if I just won the Olympic gold medal. Since then I have competed in approximately six marathons including the NYC twice. I have also competed in several triathlons and multi-day adventure races.”
One of Wright's “secret weapons” to his training and stress relief is yoga. “Yoga enhances my running in many ways,” he said. “First the physical, by staying flexible. Secondly and more important is the peace of mind while running. Running to me is like a form of meditation. Even if I am listening to music or my new favorite is podcasts I have time to think.”
Why this crazy race?
Running for 24 hours isn't something most people would do: not Wright.
“I am always looking for a new challenge,” he said. “Not only in an athletic event but in my entire life. I have done several of the NJ Trail Series races and saw this race a few years ago. I decided in early Febuary that I would do it. I like the concept of how far I can run in a certain amount of time instead of a distance. One of my favorite quotes from ultra athlete David Goggins is, 'I want to test the limits of my soul.'”
The decision to represent OCSAR was from a discussion with his wife,” Wright said. “ When I ran the NYC marathon I ran for the National Center for Missing Children and for The Herren Project, for drug and alcohol addiction programs. When I told my wife I was looking for a cause coincidentally we were driving our dog to the groomer. My wife (Corinne) suggested OSCAR. I contacted Cassie through a mutual friend and she was very happy because they operate from donations. I also like to work with a local organization. This way people know exactly where their donations go.”
Jan. 31, 2011, marked the final day of service for Wright on the Hamburg Police Force. He rose through the ranks over a 25-year-long career in law enforcement. Beginning his career in Hardyston in 1986, Wright transferred to Hamburg in 1993. He became Officer in Charge in 2006 and was ultimately promoted to Chief in 2008.
“When I first retired I taught yoga full time thoughout Sussex County,” he said. “I then became the Director of Training at RTSP (indoor firearms training facility in Randolph), In 2015 I started at the Sparta Police Department as a Part time dispatcher. I am now the 911 Coordinator and Deputy for the Office of Emergency Management for the Sparta Police Department.”
Athletically, Wright said, “I have completed in several obstacle races including Spartan and Battle Frog races. Also the NYC marathon twice. Mostly I run to stay in shape for outdoor activities such as long distance hiking and canoe trips (weeks at a time).”
Wright said his “strategy” for the 24 race is to "start out slow and then slow down.” He said, “While researching the race, I read the results from the last few years. I noticed a woman who ran over 100 miles, her fastest time was mile 89 or 90. Most runners fastest lap was mile one or two. This let me to believe she really paced herself. My plan is to alternate running with walking right from the start. Also to take 15 minute breaks later in the race. The race organizers provide food and drinks and I will be bringing some of my own foods. I also plan on changing my shoes often and maybe even walk a few laps in Teva sandals. He said, "'Just keep moving' is my mantra.”
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