Long time runner

Fred Schumann has been one of Guam’s top runners since the late 1970s. Along with Guam runner Joe Taitano, Schumann is known as a fierce competitor and one of the best marathoners on Guam, representing Guam in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea. In 1983, Schumann completed a 2,000-mile run across the length of Japan in fifty-nine days.

Schumann was born in 1959 to an American father and Japanese mother and raised in Japan. He began his running career in 1974, at the age of fourteen, to lose weight. He was living near the American military base of Sasebo, Japan as his father was doing work for the Military Sealift Command. He wrote in his blog about his weight problem:

I was so heavy as a kid that my jeans had holes in the inner thigh area from all the friction.

In 1978, at the age of eighteen, he enrolled at Sophia University in Tokyo, but a year later, he moved to Guam to live on U.S. soil to keep his U.S. citizenship. Once he was no longer a dependent of his father he was in danger of losing his citizenship by living on foreign land.

Schumann moved to Guam in January 1979, and almost immediately decided to run one of the Guam Running Club’s Saturday fun runs. It was the Cross Island Road ten-miler, one of the toughest races on the GRC calendar, and Schumann won the race. He’s been a regular at the races ever since.

Schumann is known for his strength in the longer races, especially the half and full marathons. In 1979, he ran the 7.6-mile Spirit of ’76 run and set a course record that still stands today. His favorite races is the Hafa Marathon (13.1 miles) in which he twice ran in one hour and thirteen minutes (1983 and 1988) and several times at one hour and fourteen minutes.

In 1983, he also ran a classic race against Joe Taitano, in one of their many battles, in the Guam Marathon. Taitano eventually won the race, but he had to outsurge a relentless Schumann at the end. Taitano ended up running a Guam record in the marathon and Schumann finished at 2:42:22, which is still his personal best in the race today. It wasn’t his best in the marathon overall, however: that was set at the Fiesta Bowl Marathon in Arizona in 1980 (2:37:08).

Schumann ended up being named GRC’s Runner of the Year in 1983 for his performance in the Guam Marathon, Hafa Marathon, numerous other races, and his amazing run through Japan.

When Schumann ran the length of Japan in 1983 – a 2,000-mile journey on foot, it took him fifty-nine days to complete it. He ran an average of nearly thirty-four miles a day – more than a marathon – and on some days he ran more than two marathons. The journey was meticulously planned, with hotels and hostels planned for rest stops, and important cities and sights to be seen along his route. He found sponsors to help offset his costs, as he was living off a teacher’s salary at the time. His journey was also meticulously recorded in a journal published on an online blog.

His reasons for doing the run revolved around wanting to say goodbye to his old home, Japan, as he moved on with his new life on Guam. He wanted to see Japan like no native Japanese had ever seen it, and decided to do it through his passion – running.

Schumann won the Guam Marathon in 1988, when it served as Guam’s Olympic Trials Race, and as a consequence, he represented Guam in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea.
 Schumann has represented Guam numerous other times, including for the 1987 South Pacific Games (seventh in both the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races and fifth in the marathon), the 1991 SPG (where he also ran in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races) and the 1994 Micronesian Games (where he won a silver medal in the marathon).

He coached cross country at Simon Sanchez High School (1982) and track and field at Academy of Our Lady of Guam (1983-4). Schumann also served as president of the Guam Track and Field Association from 2001-2004 and tried to increase participation in the sport by holding “all-comers” track meets for the entire community.

In addition to the years he worked as a teacher, Schumann spent most of his career in the tourism industry. He worked for Duty Free Shoppers (DFS), Guam for ten years and the Pacific Islands Club for four years. He oversaw 196 retail stores for The Athlete’s Foot Group, Inc. in the Asia Pacific Region. He also worked as a consultant for various small and large companies, such as DFS, Onward Agana Beach Resort, Tokyo American Club, and Innova Technologies.

In 2006, Schumann completed a Ph.D. program in Asia Pacific Studies at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University with a focus on Japanese overseas tourism. During his studies from 2003 through 2006 he spent time in both Guam and Japan. He has a master’s degree in Asian Studies from the University of Oregon (1990) and a bachelor’s degree in History from the Western State College of Colorado (1981), where he was recruited to compete in track and cross-country.

Schumann is currently the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Pacific Islands Club – Guam. He teaches part time at the University of Guam and University of Maryland.

He is married to Bernie Provido-Schumann, who is also a runner.

By Leo Babauta

For further reading

Schumann, Fred. Fifty-Nine Days to Wakkanai (blog). Last modified 9 December 2021.