Alphonzo Jackson “Coach Al”

Champion Racer,  Mentor, Coach, and Running Ambassador

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Jimmy Hines 5K Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

Alphonzo Jackson describes his journey as living two lives, the positive and negative; the negative challenging in many ways, yet mentally preparing him for life as a whole; the positive showing how nothing can limit the great things that can happen.  He had a life changing experience, critically injured at age 19, not expected to survive. He later realized he survived because another life lay waiting ahead.

He became a champion runner, breaking records in distances, age group, and events.

He had a talent to train other people in many ways; physically, but most of all mentally.

He would bear the Olympic flame for the United States. Receiving a letter from the Olympic committee, “saying I was being considered as torchbearer for 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics; total surprise, shock that I would even be considered for something of this magnitude. Gave me the feeling of representing my country – how often do we get to do that?”

Runner inducted into the National Black Marathoners Hall of Fame. “Huge in so many ways. Most of all, now a part of black history. No words to describe that.”



Carrying the torch, with Buford Thompson, friend of 40 years; Birdell Lewis, mother; Stanley Perkins, friend of over 50 years.


Champion Racer

Ranked 3rd in the world in his age division for the 5K 16:28, age 50, 1996, Carlsbad 5000, San Diego, CA

Ranked 3rd in the world in his age division for the 1/2 marathon 1:15:28 age 50, 1996, Las Vegas International Half Marathon Championship

Finished 3rd at the PAUSTF Track and Field Grand Prix Championship, 1998

Lafayette Reservoir Run 5K age group course record, 2005 Lafayette, CA 19:01

Pacific Sun 2.5M age group course record, 1996, Greenbrae, CA 13:30

National Class Senior Runner 5K PR 16:01

10K PR: Alameda Run for the Parks 1995 34:00

10M PR: California Ten 1996 58:01

Marathon PR: Los Angeles Marathon 2:38:40

Completed 38 marathons, 7 duathlons, and several triathlons, 100s of 5Ks and 10Ks



Full circle: from Dallas, his birthplace, back to Dallas, home of the National Black Marathoners Hall of Fame, the path lit by an Olympic flame.


“If you don’t mind, it don’t matter”  -Alphonzo Jackson.


Mentor and Coach

Head Coach, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team-in-Training, San Francisco East Bay Area, 1997-present. TNT Man of the Year, 2009: “You have made a difference in the lives of those fighting blood cancers.”

“Team-in-Training is my passion, mainly because of the cause and the people I get to encounter. The great thing about my job is helping people reach goals they never dreamed of.”

Athletic Director/Coach, Students Run Oakland, 2000-2010. “Students Run Oakland is a way of giving back something to my neighborhood and training leaders for the future.”

1000 Mile Running Club Marathon Coach, San Quentin Prison, 2010.  One of the prisoners, a leukemia patient, also raised funds for Team in Training. “Coach Al” served as the official starter for this race of 16 inmates running 105 loops around a mostly concrete, uneven, quarter-mile prison yard. The final marathon finisher had the Coach running with him as he finished that last mile.

Physical Fitness Teacher. Family Montessori School, El Cerrito, CA, 2010-present

Personal trainer, nationally certified running coach, professional cyclist, successfully mentoring runners for over 27 years


“Just do the damn thing.”

Running Ambassador

Featured in award-winning documentary “Runners High” (2006): “When teenagers from one of the nation’s toughest neighborhoods in Oakland, California signed up to train for a marathon. They begin the journey of a lifetime.”

Olympic Torch Bearer – Oakland leg of the 65-day; 13,500-mile relay of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic games. Selected among 11,500 participants, Coach Jackson recalls, “This was one of the greatest moments of my life. I was impressed by my fellow runners: a 17 year hero, who went into burning house three times to rescue people; a 67 year old lady from Chicago, a master in Tae Kwan Do, who taught inner city girls; a mother who donated a kidney to her son. The man whose torch lit mine invented the Beeper Ball, a device designed for blind kids so they can hear the beep, allowing them to play baseball, soccer, basketball, football, even frisbee. This was the shortest run of my life, less than 3/10 of mile, but I remember every step of that run, the course in my back yard: Lake Merritt, where it all started. My favorite place to run, ‘The Office.'”

Star performer in television commercial: recruited for Walgreens ad filmed on Oakland–San Francisco Bay Bridge. “I expected to see a crowd of runners. Where is everybody? They said, ‘you it.’ Closed down the bridge, took the camera truck down to the toll booth, ran up the span to the top, to Treasure Island, with the camera truck right on top of me. They chose me because of my legs! Saw the commercial only once­­– that person runs just like me– it is me!”

Feeding those fallen on hard times. 30 years ago, Alphonzo began fixing sandwiches for the homeless. Once he began working for Team in Training, he could provide even more, taking the leftovers from every picnic, run and banquet. He also recycles any spare clothing left behind. His mantra: better to be the giver than the receiver.


 Coach Al with his family



Alphonzo and Lisa Felder, his inspiration



“Your health is your wealth”  -Alphonzo Jackson.