Burns, Mark


Pennsylvania native Mark Burns found his way to Westerville after running at Youngsville High School for coach Bob Long, a former Otterbein record-holder himself. Through the connection, Burns came to compete at high school meets hosted by Otterbein and eventually found himself as a Cardinal come 1979.

Burns joined high-school teammate Rob Rose and his talented group of sophomores to start building something special at Otterbein, with the squad ultimately winning the program’s first-ever OAC team championship for cross country in 1980. A versatile runner, Burns possessed a unique confidence that helped break down barriers for his peers. He had no fear of running or performing in the classroom, holding a determination to succeed and a belief that he could.

Those attributes led Burns into becoming a 2x All-American, 7x conference champion on the track and an individual OAC champion in cross country… where he was all-league and all-region three different times. He holds spots on Otterbein’s all-time lists in the 800, 1500 and 5000 meters, and his school record of 3:49.11 in the 1500 still stands today.That time converts to a 4:07.37 mile.

Among Mark’s outstanding college performances were third at the All-Ohio Cross Country Championships as a senior in 1982, which led into a seventh-place result at the ensuing NCAA Championships where he became the first All-American in program history. Burns then crossed the line sixth in the 1500 meters during his final track season for another All-American honor. Serving as team captain, he graduated with a career-winning percentage of .896 and, even more impressively, won 99.1% of races as a senior.

A well-rounded individual, Burns also enjoyed a diversified experience on campus by serving as treasurer of Jonda fraternity and getting to know students that didn’t play a sport. Due to his running schedule rarely permitting a trip back home, he instead became very acclimated within the community and took advantage of time in the dorm entertainment areas alongside friends.

Following graduation in 1983, Mark went on to a 25-year career in sales and now resides in Marysville with his wife, Cynthia. He has a stepdaughter, Jacqueline, and two grandchildren, Ava and Jayden.

Now officially classified among the best of the best, Burns’style and accomplishments helped pave the way for a list of standout All-Americans in future years such as Scott Alpeter and Tom Schnurr. These contributions make him one of the most memorable and celebrated distance runners in Otterbein history.