For two decades, beloved marathoner John Schultz could be seen at just about any 5K in the area wearing his trademark red shorts – and no shirt. But in November of 2016, the 84-year-old was killed crossing the street coming home from choir practice, leaving the running community stunned and saddened.
A memorial run was planned last spring, and more than 600 Delawareans turned out in a sea of red for the race. Races2Run kicked off their 2ndannual “Running in Red Shorts 5k” this past Sunday at 8th & Union Kitchen, where the collective enthusiasm for a man every avid runner knew was on display. Many posed with a life-size cutout of Schultz donning his red running shorts.
“He sure did have a fan club, and he was remarkable in just so many ways,” said Wayne Kursh of Races2Run. “He was older than most of our runners, he always wore those red shorts, and he never ran with a shirt on — unless it was really cold outside – in which case he wore a very old jacket with holes in it that was pinned together with safety pins.
“And he was one smart guy. At my Judy Johnson 5k he took the microphone and gave a long-winded talk about who Judy Johnson was. He did the same thing at a 5k we staged at a cemetery on Delaware Ave. where he went on to explain who was buried there and the history of the cemetery. He was a pure gentleman.”
Schultz was a chemist at DuPont who picked up running at the age of 59. The story goes that he missed the bus home from work one day and decided to walk and jog the 4-miles home in his work clothes. He enjoyed the exercise and soon developed a passion for running.
The number of races Schultz participated in well into his 80’s – many of longer lengths – showed the amazing energy and spirit he had for the sport. He holds several state running records, including the half marathon (80-84) 3:11:37 and full marathon (80-84) 6:44:17.
There are a lot of things avid runners miss about their red-shorted friend who made runs a little more memorable.“John was also an awesome singer who would be happy to sing the national anthem anytime we asked him to. He added a lot of color to our races,” said Kursh.
Photos by Wayne Kursh and Races2Run.com