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Dr. John Minen, a Boulder chiropractor, has worked on some of the best track and field athletes in the country as part of the medical staff at the recent U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. (John Minen / Courtesy photo)
Dr. John Minen, a Boulder chiropractor, has worked on some of the best track and field athletes in the country as part of the medical staff at the recent U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. (John Minen / Courtesy photo)
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When Boulder chiropractor John Minen received a call from Dr. Ted Forcum, the lead chiropractor in charge of staffing the medical tent at last month’s U.S. Olympic Trials, asking him to help work with athletes, he did not hesitate. Minen, still a good runner himself, blocked out a week at his business, Colorado Sports Chiropractic, and headed to Eugene, Ore., for a week of work at what Boulder sports agent Brendan Reilly calls the “best national championship meet in the world.”

Years ago, an injury kept Dr. John Minen from competing in the Olympic Trials, something that motivates him to help younger runners pursuing their own competitive dreams. (John Minen / Courtesy photo)

The 10-day meet brings together the country’s best in 20 events, men and women, in a winner-take-all format; the top three in each event earn the right to represent the United States at the Tokyo Olympic Games, which begin July 23.

“It was amazing,” Minen said. “I was fortunate to be picked. It was a magical thing, to work at the historic Hayward Field alongside the other top health care providers, as well as learn from them.”

Minen put in some long days at the Trials, working with the nation’s fittest athletes in all disciplines, from throwers to jumpers to hurdlers and middle- and long-distance runners. It was an experience, he emphasized when I ran with him on the Boulder Creek Path last week after his return, that “was magical.” (To be honest, I ran with Minen for about 300 meters, before he dropped me to head up the canyon). At 32, Minen remains fit enough to harbor a goal of breaking 4 minutes for the mile.

Minen came close to running a 4-minute mile in college and as a post-collegian. A native of Ohio, he attended Kent State University before going on to the University of Virginia. There he ran well, but said of his competitive career, “I have some unfinished business.” Boulder was a place to work on that business. Minen visited each summer to stay with his best friend, and was hired for seasonal jobs at Newton Running by Danny Abshire, an author, form coach and shoe inventor who taught Minen the basics of the biomechanics of running.

Under the tutelage of three-time U.S. Olympian Jim Spivey, Minen ran at an elite level, competing in the 1500 meters at the national championships in 2011 and qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Trials. An injury kept him out of the Trials, something that motivates him to help younger runners pursuing their own competitive dreams. Last year, Minen set up a fund to help athletes facing financial hardships because of lost appearance fees and race bonuses; last month, he donated $500 to the Boulder Road Runners Olympic Trials Scholarship Fund.

“Not a lot (of the Trials athletes) are making any money, or are well-funded,” said Minen, who had to scrape up money for travel during his own elite days. “Some are volunteer coaches at their previous colleges, which they do to use the facilities, to jump or pole vault.”

In Eugene, Minen and the other invited body workers would set up each day in newly renovated Hayward Field. Some days he would see up to 10 athletes, with each session lasting roughly an hour. “We worked with everyone,” said Minen. One who stood out was a discus thrower, competing in her fifth Olympic Trials. “It was awesome to talk to her.”

Attending these Olympic Trials, he continued, was in a way “bittersweet, coming from my previous experience (as an elite) there was a hole that needed to be filled.” He looks back on his career now and thinks, “What could have made this better? I want athletes to get the best out of themselves.”

He added, “I love the sport. It saved me, physically and emotionally, and I want to give back, to pay it forward. Running afforded me the ability to get an education. Neither of my parents were able to secure a college education, and my best shot at getting one was with a scholarship. Running allowed me to attend one of the best public schools in the country, and for that I’m extremely grateful.”

Back home, Minen continues to train at a high level, lifts weights four times a week, sees clients — who include some Tokyo Olympians, “a point of pride” — and oversees his business. How does he hold it all together? “With lots of coffee,” he joked, (I think), before adding that his office staff and two massage therapists at Colorado Sports Chiropractic are key. “We take care of each other.” And his fiancée, Charlotte Thompson, is “super supportive. When I’m beat up and tired, white-lipped from a day of training, she’ll whip up a meal.”

Minen is settled in Boulder, which he calls one of the best places in the country to live and train. “I’m always surprised,” he said, “that every morning I see people walking, hiking, climbing and biking. It’s not like that in the Midwest. Almost every patient is an athlete here. We live in an amazing place, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”


Minen’s advice

John Minen advises people to look at massage, chiropractic work and physical therapy as regular maintenance, something to do in the same way we see a dentist for a checkup. “Don’t wait until something is wrong. Find someone you trust with body work and make it a routine, to avoid the repetitive, overuse injuries” he often sees.

Follow Michael Sandrock on Instagram: @MikeSandrock.