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Greg Morrison Joggler Interview – Over 25 Years of Joggling

Posted Sep 08 2011 5:44am

Greg Morrison stumbled upon our joggling blog and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were other people who were jogglers.  He’s been joggling since the early 80’s!  Here’s his story.

My name is Greg Morrison. I live in Aptos, CA. I open the door to my RV and step onto a trail to Niesene Marks State Park. I’m an un-employed Hardwood Flooring Mechanic. We’re all pretty much un-employed. In the last few weeks I’ve decided to write a book about Joggling. It was during my earliest research that I found your site. The theme of the book is: Living longer, smarter and happier with joggling. Be the Proof.

Around 1975 a friend in college broke out three balls and started juggling. I’d never seen anyone juggle, in person. My eyes popped out of my head (that’s two balls down and one to gather). I shouted, “I always wanted to do that”. He stopped and showed me how to do a cascade. I learned in under a minute. Granted I needed a clear 4 foot circle for 10 jugs, but I was the happiest man alive. After that I juggled everything I could find. What a thrill Hardware Stores became.

I started joggling in 1983. I saw Brad Jackson joggling 3 clubs. He was a math professor and headed up the San Jose State Juggling Club, so I knew him. I yelled, “How do you do that?” He said, “Start with balls”. I’d been jogging on and off since the early 70′s, so I got out my La Cross balls and hit the streets. It was easier than I imagined. Yes, I dropped a lot during my 2 mile joggle. But La Cross balls bounce up and forward. Soon I was catching my drops in-stride. (It never occurred to me to do tricks, until I saw your videos. Now, I’m thinking you could do quite an interesting routine with drops on purpose). A week later I tried clubs, and never looked back.

I’ve only ran 3 races. Two 10 K’s and a marathon. My favorite race has to be the Pacific Rim Marathon in San Francisco- on Father’s Day around 1988. I had not ran in years. I saw the ad 2 weeks before the race started. I got out my clubs and started running. I was terrible. I only broke 2 miles twice. One 4 miler and a 6.  I showed up in my Levi-cut-offs, and 100% cotton t-shirt. Under-fed, under-hydrated. Miles 13 through 18 were along The Great Highway (Highway 1 at the ocean). It was a windy day. I had to twist my upper body into the wind and throw the clubs at least 6 inches to my left. Must have dropped 20 times. I passed the same people 4 or 5 times.

Around mile 15, I needed a Porta-john. There wasn’t one, so I walked off the race to a near-by gas station. Sitting there, all I could feel was my feet throbbing like some cartoon character. Mile 18 was at the base of Cliff House, and a steep, long hill. By the 2nd parking lot I was done in. Collected my 3 clubs in one hand and started walking. I got a tap on my shoulder, I looked over and saw a woman in her mid-60′s, taking 6 inch strides. As she “blew” by me, she said, “That’s okay. You did good”.

Near the top I started again. At mile 20 my time was 3:22. Wrongly, I thought the world joggling record was 4:22. I remembered thinking- that should be easy to break. Things went wonderfully wrong. One of my drops rolled under a parked car. So here I am, laying flat out on a steep down-grade with my head under a car (a true Kodak moment). I hit the  first Runner’s High of my life in the Presideo overlooking the Bay. Clear blue sky, white caps on the Bay, sail boats everywhere. I walked off the course and just stared at it. I’d never felt so good about being alive. What’s a world record compared to this?

Mile 22 offered cookies at the water station. I sat down and ate an entire box of Little Debbies Oatmeal Cookies filled with white goo. I crossed the finish line in like 5:38. Whatever. I had reached my first runner’s high; I got a little medal to mail to my son.

A couple years ago, I’m met two young, un-polished buskers in the Pacific Mall of Santa Cruz. We talked, and juggled. I told them that I had joggled a marathon in The City back in the mid 80′s. Their mouths dropped. “We just came from The City and met a guy who told us about a guy he saw club joggling a marathon way back then. Oh my God, you’re that guy”.

Maybe I should do more marathons, but I’m reminded of Forrest Gump, when Jennie says, I wish I had been there. And he says, You were. And he flashbacks to the beautiful places he saw while running across America. That’s the way it is for me.  With my clubs, I’m never alone. I have a close attachment to every place I’ve ever joggled. And there are many. At least 9 States. Every joggle in Henry Cowell State Park, the Redwoods talk to me. “Oh look, Greg, came to visit us today”. I can feel them. They are very happy that I came to joggle just for them, and me… The ocean and surfers along West Cliff… The time a street car in New Orleans ran over a dropped club… a panicked squirrel on the trails of San Antonio County Park… The time I raced a Cable Car up the crazy steep incline of Hyde St. in SF and won. People along the streets. Every joggle has been so lovely. I never remember why I ever quit. And there have been many. Unbelievable.

For the last three years I’ve been a depressed grub worm. I’ve grieved the loss of my joggling and good health, but just couldn’t walk out the door. In the last month I’ve started again. I have one of those large water bottles that are normally inverted in a water cooler. I’ve been using it and making up exercises. I like to hold it like a suitcase and lift it while standing on one foot. I do some reps and switch feet, more reps. Change hands. And I like swinging it around in every direction that occurs to me. (This is not a full bottle, not half). I heard somewhere that the greatest defense against Alzheimer is to dance. Now, I dance while cleaning house. What a pleasure… I’m exploring.

My diet has been miserable. Fruits and vegetables always went bad before I ate them. Often I would go hungry and forget I had them. It’s probably one of the reasons my blood pressure was 212/128, 2 months ago. I bought a blender. Got a list of fruits and veggies that are listed to help lower blood pressure. Now, I enjoy chopping up bizarre combinations- the only constant has been garlic, an apple, and cocoa powder. I enjoy the ritual of chopping, and the wonder of what this one is going to taste like.  I imagine that I’m making my own medicine, one that will get me off Western Medication.

Until I drop. Seriously, after reading your post, Minimal Level of Running to Get Benefits, and when you toss in the Dartmouth Study, and the fact that a few months ago I had been a walking-talking heart attack or stroke victim, I figure that all the miles I put in joggling in the past, Saved my life.  I know I would have quit jogging 30 years ago, if not for my three clubs. Without them, I wouldn’t have ran a marathon, I would never have reached a runner’s high. I wouldn’t have run 12-15 miles a day, every day. Without joggling, I would have either died or been a drooling burden on my son.

I don’t think about per mile time. I seldom joggle in places with known distances. I prefer to run trails or beaches. My guess is around 12 minute miles, but it might be 10. I used to go around 8:30. I really don’t care. For me it’s the place, and like the name on the Ken Kesey and The Merry Prankster’s Bus- Further.

I was teaching a woman how to juggle. She was one those who had the two ball approach down, but was too afraid to throw the third. Finally, I said, “This time, NO MATTER WHAT throw the third ball.”

She laughed, and said, “I’ll remember that- In life, always throw the third ball”.

She did, and as all jugglers, had it for life. Try it. If you can only run a block, don’t be ashamed; do it. You’ll be a hero to all  who see you. And “Drops Happen” should be a bumper sticker. One time I was joggling in the Pebble Beach Golf Course and dropped. A golfer called out to me. “Thank you. For a minute there, I thought you were God. And I didn’t want to be seen being beaten by Harry”.

I just got out my copy of One Wheel Many Spokes (USA by Unicycle) by my friend Lars Clausen for a couple quotes. On his Dedication page, “Security is mostly a superstition. It doesn’t exit in nature… Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”. Helen Keller. And later in the book, “Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the things you did do”. Mark Twain. Try it. Strike the gold that Mark Twain never found.

In ten years I want to see joggling dominate the potato-sack race. It could happen. In fact we could push the boundaries of the p-s race. Imagine the guy on the right changing chords on a guitar, the guy on the left strumming, while between the two, tied at the leg, they are joggling torches (maybe an accordion is more practical than a guitar).  I’ve only seen 2 other people joggle in my 56 years. In 10 years I’d like to see jogglers everywhere you turn.

I have a theory about who were the first jogglers. Cavemen. They would go out on a hunt for big game. If they were successful, it would take at least two guys and pole to carry it back to camp.  That leaves 3 clubs for the runner of the group. In celebration, He would joggle back to the women. Hence, it’s in our shared DNA, when we see a joggler, we giggle in relief, knowing that for now, “We are Saved”.

Thanks Greg!

You can see more of Greg’s writing on his blog gregshortstories.blogspot.com

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