STUDENT-Athlete of the Week: Greg Woodburn

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Each week, we switch the emphasis to the left side of the hyphen and have a conversation with a Trojan scholar athlete...
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Name: Greg Woodburn

Sport: Men's Track

Class: Junior

Major: History (Minors in Painting and Entrepreneurship)

GPA: 3.94

Jordan Moore (JM): Let's get right into it.  You are the founder and president of Give Running, a non-profit organization that has provided 7,600+ pairs of shoes to youngsters in third-world nations and the inner-city.  Tell me more...

Greg Woodburn (GW): Six years ago as a freshman in high school, I suffered a stress fracture in my hip and couldn't run for several long months. Then I missed most of my sophomore year because of knee injuries.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I have made an effort to turn adversity into opportunity by creating Give Running, a non-profit organization that donates used (but still in good condition) running shoes to underprivileged youth.

JM: How has it blossomed so quickly?

GW: My initial goal was to collect and clean 100 pairs of running shoes by Christmas 2006. By getting the word out and by placing collection boxes at local schools, gyms and running stores, however, I was able to personally collect, wash, and send more than 500 pairs of cleaned-up running shoes to Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. Since the winter of 2006, Give Running has continued to grow thanks in large part to the tremendous support of the Trojan Family, inspiring and bringing joy to givers and receivers alike.

JM: Give Running has taken you around the globe, including to Africa.  Tell me a story from that trip...
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GW: I gave out more than 100 pairs of Give Running shoes in Sikoro, Mali.  I went on a five-mile run through the village. The first few laps of my quarter-mile loop, I was met with confused stares and suppressed giggles as the villagers tried to make sense of my shorts-wearing and circle-running. Soon though, several children began to run with me; they would keep me company for one or two circuits, take a rest, and then join me again the next time I came around. Before I knew it, my group had swelled from three to 10 to 25+ kids with more smiling faces joining each lap. Many of my new running partners were wearing the shoes they had received the previous day, which for many of them was their first-ever pair of footwear. My run in Sikoro was among the greatest of my life not for the competitive greatness it evoked, but for the friendships it forged - and for serving as an affirmation that Give Running truly was achieving its mission.

JM: You are a History major.  From Ancient Greece to Usain Bolt, who is the greatest runner of all-time?  You pick the standard for greatness.

GW: Wow, tough question! I am going to give a tie for greatest runner -- based on their athletic achievements, passion for running, as well as the personal inspiration and encouragement they have given me -- to Olympic Bronze Medalist and American record-holder in the Marathon Deena Kastor and my USC distance coach Laszlo Tabori, who was also the third man ever to break 4:00 in the mile.

JM: Considering your remarkable business accomplishments, entrepreneurship makes sense as a minor, but you are also a painter.  Who is your favorite painter?

GW: Another toughie -- it often seems like whichever master painter's work I have seen most recently is my favorite! Having a somewhat Impressionistic style myself, I have always dearly loved Monet and found his paintings to be a never-ending well of inspiration.

JM: Are you crazy like Van Gogh or crazy like Picasso?

GW: I'm probably crazy like both of them at times depending on mood, but all in all, I would say more like Picasso.

JM: You are the poster boy for "college is what you make of it."  What else do you have left to accomplish as an undergrad?

GW: A lot. Among my goals for the classroom are to continue earning A's and take Ballroom Dancing. In terms of running, being healthy is always priority no. 1, but I also plan to break 15:00 in the 5000 meters. My class is 2-0 against the Bruins in our annual Dual Meet, so my top goal is to go undefeated against the Bruins in the Dual Meet.

JM: Where are you heading?  The Olympics?  Fortune 500?  The Getty?  Maybe all of the above... 

GW: I definitely plan to go to the Olympics at some point -- though much more likely as a spectator cheering on my USC teammates than as a competitor :).  As for my career plans, I can see myself running non-profits full-time, whether that non-profit be Give Running or a different worthy project. I would also love to remain in the electric college atmosphere by being a History professor and coaching Cross-Country and Track.

If you would like to donate a pair of shoes, you can contact Greg at

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