Howard “Jake” Jacobson was introduced to race walking by Henry Laskau in January 1957. Jacobson describes himself as a "good to very good but never great race walker," who finished in the top three to ten at many open competition races. As a master, he won a number of national titles, setting age-group records along the way. But it has been his abilities as coach, mentor, big brother, team organizer, club founder, corporate spokesperson, fitness editor, and author that have, as he says, "outshined my athletic performances."
Over a span of years beginning in 1966, he was athlete-coach for the Long Island Athletic Club. In 1977, he founded the East Side Track Club with his son, Alan. The club soon obtained the sponsorship of Adidas, Reebok and then Converse, and was able to assist the development of race walkers such as Dan O'Connor, Vincent O'Sullivan, Carl Schueler, Curt Clausen and even myself.
In 1980, his first book, Racewalk to Fitness, was published by Simon and Schuster. It was considered by many to have been the “bible of the sport." New York City's Central Park became a Mecca for walkers in 1979 when Jacobson founded the New York Walkers Club (NYWC) and provided free weekly clinics 50 weeks a year in up to five locations around the metropolitan area. In 1982, Jacobson coined the word healthwalk to describe the pursuits of those who came to his clinics seeking fitness. The NYWC grew in geometric proportions and at its peak boasted 1500 members. The club produced as many as 20 races a year.
In 1984, Jacobson rented a children's summer camp for one week to teach average citizens race walking and healthwalking. He also invited eight juniors to be coached by himself, Vincent O'Sullivan, and Gary Westerfield. Expanding his vision, Jacobson bought a 100-acre farm in the Catskills to serve as a camp for walking and weight-loss. Race walkers Nick Bdera, Dan Pierce, Dave McGovern, John Slavonic, and Curt Clausen were his hired staff, primarily undertaking construction and maintenance work, with time off for training. McGovern also assisted Coach Jake with instructing the guests during technique sessions. After six seasons, Jake closed the camp and moved back to the NY metropolitan area to become a fitness editor for the New York Post.
Jacobson was also the director of the Walkers Club of America and in 1985 produced The March Across America for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The event was awarded the Silver Anvil Award as the best special event of the year by the Public Relations Society of America.