Member Spotlight: Jack Denison

By: Kevin Brandon

Jack, welcome! I usually start these off by asking how the interview subject ended up in Philadelphia. However, in your case, I happen to know you hail from Philly. What was it like growing up in Fairmount?

Indeed. It was really nice growing up in the city. Me and my friends had a lot of freedom to explore since there was so much to see and we didn’t need a car to get anywhere. I think my parents liked it as well because they weren’t on the hook to drive me to sports games, etc.

Can you tell us about when you first started running? Did a specific event compel you to take on the sport?

I started running during my sophomore year of high school. Growing up I was much more interested in basketball so freshman year I played soccer and basketball. Soccer wasn’t really my thing so I decided I would try XC as a way to get in shape for hoops and ended up doing XC, basketball, and track. Finally I realized I wasn’t growing much so quit basketball the following year and just did running. Our high school program was very relaxed and we only ran like 5 days a week at most so I mostly just enjoyed running with my friends and didn’t think much about training or being serious.

After you picked up running, how did your career progress from that moment to today?

I feel lucky that my high school coach was pretty deliberate in not making running this super serious piece of my life so when I went to college to run I still had a lot of room to grow. In college I went from running like 30 miles a week to higher mileage and was able to progress nicely. Now I just run because it’s fun.

Fellow Allegheny College alumnus and PRTC member, Pat McLaughlin, recently made the following statement: “Just to be clear, I am still completely capable of smoking Jack Denison at any distance at a moment’s notice.” Care to respond to this claim?

I’d take him in a 43 meter sprint and he knows this.

Can you share a favorite race memory or general moment in running?

Definitely when we made Nationals for XC my sophomore year in college. It was really cool to have such a great team performance to make it there. The next is when my teammate finished second at Nationals the next year. That was cool.

How about a not so great moment?

hree-time 200 club member.

Regarding your running future, what sort of goals do you have on the horizon?

Meh. I’d be happy to keep running until I’m an old fella.

Can you tell us a bit about your professional life? How your job changed the way you view your hometown? In your view, what is Philly’s greatest strength / weakness?

My day job is at a place called Center City District where we do a lot of policy research. It’s really fun to see the processes behind what drives Philadelphia’s growth. Philadelphia is an amazing place and I feel lucky to be able to work to try and continue that progress. That being said there are definitely places Philly can contribute to improve. Probably at the top of that list is having stronger job growth. Our job growth is more similar to Detroit than to Boston or D.C…

You recently made a move to West Philly with your girlfriend Emma. What’s life like on the other side of the Schuylkill? Could you describe your neighborhood for the uninitiated?

I love it. Our neighborhood feels like an Oberlin satellite campus in West Philly.

Aside from running, do you have any hidden/special talents, hobbies or interests?

Ball is life.

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