A decorated Lake Country athlete recently won big on a national stage.
Alan Black of Jasper County, who is best known in Putnam County as the man who has won the annual Torture Trail race at the Putnam County Dairy Festival multiple times, won the USATF Masters 1 Mile Championship race in Flint, Michigan, on Aug. 24. The 44-year-old runner has competed in over 500 races in 24 years. He finished the championship race with an impressive time of 4:39 to win one of the most important races in the country.
“I was always pretty good at running the mile,” Black said. “I always figured my best chance of winning a national championship would be in the mile. I’m just more than happy to be able to win my first one.”
Black’s victory was a significant moment for his career as he has been working toward returning to form for some time. He had been working on getting back into shape after finally recovering from an injury – high hamstring tendonitis – which takes anywhere from a year to a year and a half to fully recover from.
“I was really pumped up for this one,” Black said. “I’ve been getting back into pretty good shape after the long injury I had. I also knew a lot of people up there so I felt like my chances would be even greater. I’ve competed in Masters races in the past and placed, but I’m excited to finally get a championship under my belt.”
Black’s running career began in Putnam County when he competed in his very first Torture Trail 10K at age 20. He achieved success through his 30s before becoming eligible to take part in the USATF Masters Class once he came into his 40s.
Black once again won the Torture Trail this year at the 2018 Putnam County Dairy Festival, finishing as the male overall winner with a time of 35:14.6 at a pace of 5:41/m.
Black has been able to balance a successful athletic career with an equally busy personal life. He has a family that includes five daughters and his wife, Julie, and he works night shifts for Georgia Power.
Despite trying to balance running with work and family, Black has found ways to keep in shape.
“It can be tough finding a balance,” Black said. “You kind of have to sacrifice a bit. I try to run about 60 miles a week to stay in shape. I get up in the evening and it takes me about two hours to train that day. Sometimes, it can get a little busy, especially when I work a lot of overtime. I keep a treadmill at work that I can run on during my break, which I’m thankful for. That really frees up my time at home that I can spend with my family. It’s a real juggle but I’ve made it work.”
Black is planning on attending Masters 15K National Championship race in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A 15K is roughly 9 miles, so Black will be training with longer workouts and going on longer runs in order to build endurance for his next long race.
But, for now, Black said he is excited about his recent success.
“I’ve gotten a lot of congratulations from family, friends and the community,” Black said. “A lot of people have looked up to me for a long time, so its real special to have so many people behind me. You couldn’t ask for anything better at the moment.”