Minnesota is full of unsung heroes who contribute greatly to the running community. Perhaps one of the most influential of those people is Jack Moran, the creator of Apple Raceberry JaM. Raceberry JaM has provided Minnesota with archives of results dating back to 1999 (with State and MIAC Championships back to 1991). It has publicized the coaches' rankings and honor rolls and has documented numerous results from athletes whose performances would have otherwise been lost. Countless members of the Minnesota running community have benefited from Moran's work and it is a privilege to share what I have learned about him over the past week with you all.
Moran began running track and cross country in high school, but, by his own admission, he was never very good. "Perhaps it was because I was handicapped by smoking," he recalls. After being tossed off the track team for getting caught smoking in the locker room, Moran stopped running for a while.
At the age of 30, an office mate talked him into going out for a run again and after a few years and quitting smoking, Moran was able to make the jump from hardly making around the football field to breaking six minutes in the mile.
Moran, an aerospace engineer in college, then moved to Minnesota where he taught at the University for 23 years. The inspiration for starting Raceberry JaM can be traced back to a race that Moran ran in 1980. "I ran a big PR 10k in a big spring race that year and it didn't show up in the results, so I started writing programs for the barely portable computers we had at school to score races." Slowly, Moran began to make some money timing races and selling his software (which ran on the Apple II at the time), and in 1991 he quit teaching.
Moran timed his first cross country meet in 1988 and in his fourth meet he timed the NCAA D1 championships! In 1991, he expanded to cover track meets as well. With the popularization of the internet, Moran began to post results for road races, cross country, and track races online, starting in 1995. Shortly after, he started to post entry lists and schedules for races that he wasn't timing, including the MDRA (Minnesota Distance Running Association) schedule.
The internet was not widely popular until the late 1990s so Moran worked with a man named Mike Scott, a cross country guru for USATF, and together they would receive results from all the NCAA regional in fax form, which they would then have to type into a text file and post them. Since 1998 Moran has been posting results of all the MSHSL sections. "Luckily, now I get this info in text form so we don't have to type it all out again!"
To remedy the issue of receiving all results in fax form, Moran developed a system for entering performance data online in the mid-1990s. Moran would then compile these and post the best performances throughout the season. In 1998 Moran approached the Minnesota Coaches Association and offered to do the same thing for high school track and field. This developed into the ARJ honor rolls (which many athletes and running fans are familiar with today) and are one of the best ways of recognizing top performances from high school athletes around the state.
The majority of results on Raceberry JaM are for events than Moran and his son, John time themselves. Moran also solicits results from the other MSHSL section timers and reformats them for publication on Raceberry JaM. Everything posted on the website is produced by Moran's Raceberry JaM software.
People like Moran are essential to keeping the Minnesota running culture healthy and thriving. His work is an example of something that we all benefit from, and yet few of us know who is behind it. When I started this column, it was my goal to bring stories and histories like this to the running community, and I'm proud to share Moran's story with you all. If this reminded you of any people who have contributed to the Minnesota running community like Moran I hope you will share them with me so I can share them with the rest of the community!
Happy running, and best of luck to all athletes competing at sections this week!
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