Woody Woodburn is a national award-winning newspaper columnist, author, and “Streaker” who has run at least three miles every single day since July 7, 2003.
For more than two decades Woody was a sports columnist in Southern California with The Ventura County Star and then The Daily Breeze in Torrance. He left the press boxes, however, after being rear-ended while waiting at a stoplight by an uninsured drunk driver flying an estimated 65 mph on a downtown city street following the 2003 Super Bowl in San Diego. Woody suffered a ruptured disc in his neck from the violent collision that ripped his driver’s seat off its bolts and totaled his Honda. Despite “successful” neurosurgery to fuse two vertebrae he still suffers constant neck and shoulder pain, and numbness in his left hand and fingers, which made writing sports columns on deadline impossible. After the crash, Woody returned to The Star as a general interest essayist while also pursing a career writing books — he is currently shopping one nonfiction manuscript and working on a second.
Woody has received numerous national writing awards, including first place for Column Writing by the Associated Press News Executive Council, and has twice been voted top-five for Column Writing by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Additionally, he has been named “Columnist of the Year” by both Scripps Howard News Service and Copley News Service, and also honored with the prestigious James S. Copley “Ring of Truth” award. In 2003, Woody was inducted into the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s Journalists Hall of Fame, an honor with extra special meaning because Murray inspired Woody to become a writer: “If you are meant to be a writer, you will be,” Murray noted in reply to a letter Woody wrote seeking advice after his graduation from college. “Nobody can stop a writer from writing. Not even Hitler could do that.” Murray became Woody’s “Pen Pal” and later befriended him in the press boxes around Southern California.
Woody’s long-form essay on American Olympian and World War II hero Louie Zamperini, titled “The Toughest Miler Ever,” was featured in The Best American Sports Writing 2001 anthology. He has also contributed nearly a dozen stories to various Chicken Soup For The Soul editions and co-authored the book Raising Your Child To Be A Champion In Athletics, Arts and Academics (Kensington Publishing/Citadel Press, 2004) with Wayne Bryan, a nationally renown motivation speaker/tennis coach and father of identical twins Mike and Bob who are the most successful doubles team in tennis history.
Woody was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1960 and grew up as a faithful Buckeye until his family moved to Ventura, California, in 1972. After graduating from Buena High School, Woody attended UC Santa Barbara where he played on the Gaucho tennis team for two, majored in Business Econ with a minor in Coaching; and most importantly met Lisa, whom he married just four months after graduating in 1982. While on their honeymoon, Woody received his first newspaper job offer as a sports writer for the Twentynine Palms Desert Trail. His journalist trail then followed a southward path down the California Coast with stops in Paso Robles (1983), Santa Maria (1985), Ventura (1987) and Torrance (2001).
Woody has completed more than a dozen marathons, including the grandaddy Boston Marathon in 2009. His “young” PR in the marathon came in his very first road race of any kind, the 1982 Santa Barbara Marathon, as a 22-year-old senior at UC Santa Barbara, in a time of 2 hours, 58 minutes. His “old” PR came at the Santa Clarita Marathon at age 50 in 2010 in a time of 3 hours, 11 minutes, 37 seconds.
Woody and Lisa reside in Ventura and are the extremely proud parents of Dallas Nicole, 26, and Greg, 23.
Dallas earned MFA in Creative Writing at Purdue University in May 2013 and has been selected the 2013-14 John Steinbeck Fellowship winner, allowing her to work on a new novel at San Jose State for one year. She runs her own nonprofit (www.WriteOnBooks.org) to encourage youth to write and read.
Greg, who like Dallas graduated from the University of Southern California where he ran on the Track & Field Team and was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist, also runs his own nonprofit foundation (www.GiveRunning.org) that to date has given more than 14,000 pairs of running shoes to disadvantaged kids in African villages as well as American inner cities. Greg begins pursuit of his MBA at USC’s Marshall School of Business in the Fall of 2013.