John Storkamp grew up an active kid in the 1980s. He intended to start his running career at age 12 before he got caught in school with marijuana.
"I never really could be contained, and from an early age found myself in trouble," the 33-year-old Hastings, Minnesota, resident admitted. "By the time I cracked double digits, I was finding alcohol wherever I could and, shortly after, drugs of just about any variety." Storkamp said a family history of alcoholism, drug addiction and depression led to his predisposition for substance abuse.
Yet he ran on his own regularly at age 15, just not for school sports programs. Storkamp said his exposure to running was primarily through his sister who ran cross country in high school. "Putting on her hand-me-down shiny blue running tights and some pretty iffy running shoes and heading out the door" was Storkamp's experience, he said.
John was fortunate that his first Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor was a marathon runner from his neighborhood who he was able to train with for his first marathon in 1996.
Running became Storkamp's savior. The 1996 Twin Cities Marathon launched this talented 16-year-old runner on a long distance running career. Storkamp went on to run that race and Grandma's Marathon in Duluth each year until 2004. By then time he felt he needed a new challenge due to his slow marathon times and perceived ability to go farther.
In the early 2000s, Storkamp said he did not know anyone running ultramarathons. He had heard of two races with miles over the marathon distance, the Badwater 135 and the now defunct Edmund Fitzgerald 100K. Storkamp completed the last three Edmund Fitzgerald 100Ks when the event ended it's 26-year run in 2007. He said it remains one of his favorite races.
"Since I got my start, I have run 74 races at the marathon distance or beyond in addition to many, many training runs and adventures that have taken me past the marathon distance," Storkamp summarized. "I kind of have the 100-race mark in my head now. I think I might be able to hit that mark by the end of 2014, so I plan to race frequently and just enjoy myself until I hit 100."
Read the entirety of Eve Stein's profile of John Storkamp in the April 2013 print edition of Silent Sports magazine. To order a copy, call 715/369-3331. To avoid missing future issues, subscribe by calling 888/706-4045.