This week, we were visited by the legendary Dave Walters, a remarkable athlete whose nearly five decade running career has taken him all over the world, most recently completing the Chicago Marathon in 2:52 at the age of 62. From the hillocks of Brussels to the crushed-lava footpaths of Waikiki, Mr. Walters has lived a true runner’s life, and he shared with us some of his life lessons, which our athletes took to heart in our Regional Race.
Own the Race: This is a simple but elusive mantra. It means to take responsibility for every aspect of your competition, from training and preparation to execution and result. Good races aren’t accidents—they are the result of a courage to accept the challenge and the results, whatever they may be. From the outset, we could tell that Zach Kinne (14:43) and Keanan Ginell (15:30) were prepared to do this. Kinne led from gunshot to finishing tape, as he often has this season, and Keanan positioned himself in a lead chase pack, defeating through sheer will and nerve many runners of superior pedigree.
Set Meaningful Goals: Runners must have a plan—one that combines aspiration with a realistic assessment of what their training has prepared them to do. Before the race, it was clear that Ryan Kennedy (14:55) expected to do something special—and he held himself to this audacious standard by executing perfectly. Coming through the mile two seconds off of Kinne, Ryan ran one of his most complete races of the season, besting the next competitor by more than ten seconds. It was a race that he had readied himself for for many months, and teases a hopeful symmetry for the races to come.
Respond to the Moment of Truth: As Craig Virgin is fond of saying, every race contains a moment of truth where a runner, beset by pain and doubt, must choose whether to surge or retreat. This tick of the clock has nothing to do with muscle or aerobic capacity—it is decided by pride, grit, and confidence. That is why it was so thrilling to watch Michael Madiol (15:22) and Michael O’Connor (15:28) come through the two mile—both answered the challenge of exhaustion with a champion’s resolve, and were rewarded with PRs on a gusty day.
Be Extraordinary; Use the Results: Our races teach us about our limits, and, when met with the dispassionate eye of acceptance, can guide us to greater heights. In his second varsity race of the week, Dakota Getty (15:58) improved on his Conference mark, setting a new PR by making adjustments in his plan. And although Danny Winek (15:18) finished an impressive 6th place, he knew almost immediately that he had more to give, and a better race within him. Danny is looking forward with purpose by looking back with thoughtfulness.
All that separates an ordinary life from greatness is contained in the 15 minutes of a three mile course. The lessons of life that will make men of honor, valor, and integrity in adulthood are taught by high school sports. And whether you’re a fourteen-year-old lacing brand new shoes or a seasoned runner battling marathons when most seek retirement, there is always another lecture of the race. As the old mariner put it: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”