ESPN's John Anderson plans College Avenue Mile race

Thursday, August 15, 2013 | 7:52 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — John Anderson is up for a one-mile challenge, so if you're running in the John Anderson College Avenue race, you better watch your back. “I will beat someone, you can bet," Anderson said.

Don't worry too much, though: "Look for me to start out slow and then taper off." 

If you go

What: The John Anderson College Avenue Mile

When: Sept. 8, 2013 starting at 9 a.m.

Where: College Avenue between Broadway and Stadium Boulevard (altered traffic patterns on College Avenue from 7-11 a.m. on Sept. 8)

Why: Benefits the Anderson Family Charitable Foundation

How: Registration options listed at

Registration fee: $20

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The ESPN SportsCenter anchor and MU graduate is organizing the charity race in Columbia on Sept. 8., to benefit the Anderson Family Charitable Foundation.

Starting at 9 a.m., runners will race down College Avenue from Broadway to Stadium, passing through parts of Stephens College and MU. Registration is available at for timed and untimed categories and group categories for college affiliates. 

Anderson, a former Missouri high jumper, joked about his non-record high jump heights — he attributed his captaincy senior year to the fact that unlike many of his international teammates, he had "a valid U.S. driver's license" — but said his involvement with athletics in college eased the transition from high school by providing structure. Now Anderson, 48, is taking on a whole new set of competitors. 

“My biggest competition might actually be my 11-year-old son,” he said. 

The foundation, started by Anderson in 2009 with his wife, Tamara Anderson, benefits running clubs and other programs in Columbia public schools, as well as Anderson’s hometown of Green Bay, Wis.

Ed Schumacher, principal of Russell Boulevard Elementary School, started its running club in 2011. Money from the Anderson’s foundation has paid for registration and transportation for students to participate in the GO! St. Louis Read, Right and Run Marathon.

The popular club draws more than 150 kids on a good day. “It just reduces all kinds of problems in the morning, and (the children) love it,” Schumacher said.

Many children come to class with more energy and focus after a 20-minute morning run, and goal-setting is a priority. “We set it up so that every kid would be successful,” Schumacher said. 

Anderson and his wife have elementary school-aged children of their own, and they wanted other children to be similarly equipped for and excited about school from an early age.

“We’ve just been really lucky,” Anderson said in regard to their careers, and they did not want to be “hoarders.”

In 2010 and 2011, the Anderson’s foundation ran the John Anderson Celebrity Golf Invitational in Columbia, but a busy schedule prevented Anderson from repeating it last year. He wanted to have another event in Columbia, so the race was born.

Susan McNay works with the foundation as the events coordinator in Columbia. She said there has been more than $130,000 raised for children in need in Missouri since the foundation started, including a $20,000 school supply and cash donation to Joplin schools following the tornado in 2011. Now she’s gearing up for the race. “We hope it’ll be an annual event,” she said.

A $20 donation, also the cost of registration, will pay for a child in one of the Columbia school running clubs to participate.

Anderson said he looks forward to a good turnout on the short race course.

“We want to just flood, flood College Avenue,” Anderson said.

"I probably will be trying to recruit runners right up until the gun goes off."

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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