“EJ” Johnson Defies Odds After Knee Surgery
By Rhonda Price
Ernest “EJ” Johnson started stand up paddleboard (SUP) racing in 2006, and racked up a lot of mileage traveling from his home base in San Diego to the Florida Keys. An accomplished woodworker, paddle maker and carpenter, he likes things built to last and proudly says his 2003 Dodge Sprinter van has logged 210,000 miles and still “runs like a champ.”
Unfortunately, the same could not be said of his knees, which took a beating after five decades of skate boarding, weight lifting and paddle boarding, and gave out on him a little more than a year ago. With nagging arthritis and bone spurs, EJ knew there was no choice but to opt for a double knee replacement and months of rehab. While many athletes may have considered retirement after such a setback, the 52-year-old Johnson entered his first ocean race just eight weeks after surgery and is currently ranked one of the top 100 SUP racers by the World Paddle Association.
“Messed up knees run in my family,” EJ said dismissively when we marveled at his determination to continue racing. “My knees used to be my handicap for years, so now I don’t have anything holding me back.”
When he’s not racing, Johnson and his wife, Andie, own Paddle Republic of California, a rental business in Point Loma. He also designs paddles for YOLO® Board and stays busy with custom woodworking projects ranging from skateboards and land paddle sticks to stereo cabinets and beds. He stays in racing shape by doing what he describes as his own version of CrossFit, rowing and riding his mountain bike, saying that his active lifestyle and healthy diet are what keep him going.
“I’m into clean eating with everything organic and no sugar or bread,” he said. “I put organic lemon concentrate in my water to stay alkaline because that’s important. And I take Garden of Life® supplements twice a day because they’re fantastic!”
Among EJ’s supplement favorites are RAW Protein, RAW Organic Meal, Organic Plant Protein, Perfect Food® Wheatgrass and Perfect Food Alkalizer and Detoxifier. “I just mix the plant protein and super greens with water, and it’s all I need,” he said.
For more information about EJ and his upcoming races, check out www.paddlerepubliccalifornia.com.