Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Going the Distance with Whitman’s Distance Track Team

Illustration by Kai Bowen

Beginning their season in early February, Whitman’s distance track team is racing toward the finish line, with only two more weeks to their season. However, runners on the team are taking each race in stride and hope to time their energy’s peak at the same time as the season’s close.

Maintaining energy until the last minute is a unique element of distance track that appeals to Whitman’s runners, both individually and as a team.

According to sophomore Colin Dunlap, running distance track offers the best of both worlds because runners can focus on personal times while also celebrating team successes.

With a two-week break in the middle of the track season, an emphasis is placed on individual training, which can present both a challenge and a space to improve.

“Track season is a little weird just because of the two-week spring break right in the middle. Usually what we do for racing over break is everyone is free to find whatever meets they want to race at near their homes, and our coach will enter them,” Dunlap said.

Through the help of their coach, distance track runners can seek individual opportunities at home and in Walla Walla to continue their training over break. Spring break and individual training can still present a challenge though, and the difficulty of working, running and training during an academic break is still felt by members of the team.

“Everyone is basically just training on their own for two weeks which can often be pretty difficult,” Dunlap said.

However, other members of the team emphasize that the solo-training of spring break is unusual for running track, impacting how participants understand the team’s atmosphere.

First-year runner Jack McManus explained that distance track is often seen as an individual sport — an idea he hopes to refute.

“A lot of people would see [distance running] more as an individual sport, but the way that different ability levels can attack the same issues in the same way makes it a much more unified team experience than a lot of people would expect,” McManus said.

The team works together to face challenges both on and off the track, and Coach Scott Shields says that recent fundraising from alumni and those connected with Whitman running have allowed the team to take further steps to expand the distance track program.

“The one main item that we added through fundraising was the opportunity to participate in an indoor meet. This meet was held at the Podium in Spokane,” Shields said.

The race at the Podium was the first meet of the distance track season, and was an opportunity for Whitman’s runners to compete on an indoor track at a brand-new facility.

“This is a special event for our team because the Podium is a world class facility which held the Indoor World Championships in 2022,” Shields said.

Dunlap agreed with Shields, and said the the indoor portion of this season as essential to easing into the season and preparing for
later success.

“[The indoor meet] was a good chance to dust off some of the rust we gained over the off season in a low-stakes meet while also being a really fun race,” Dunlap said.

Aside from the chance to run indoors and dip into the start of the season, the team continued to grow through meets in March and April. Now, the team hopes to train for a peak of the season and stride toward the finish line in the coming weeks.

“We base our whole training plan around trying to peak perfectly for the end of the season. This usually means a training load that can often feel pretty intense throughout the season. However, once we get towards the last couple weeks, we lighten things up a bit so that our bodies can feel fresh and run fast when it matters,” Dunlap said.

Upcoming meets and the end of the season are where favorite memories are formed for many team members.

For Dunlap, the upcoming Who Do You Run For fundraiser is a yearly event that he looks forward to every season. McManus, who has been on the mend from injuries early on in the season, hopes to approach the team’s conference feeling revitalized.

“At this point the main objective is to just get healthy and to kind of feel good and feel confident by the end of conference in two weeks,” McManus said.

Even Shields looks forward to that final burst of energy as the season ends, stating that each season is another opportunity.

“It’s another special opportunity for us to grow together as adults, athletes and teammates, and continue to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment and get faster,” Shields said.

Looking into the near future, distance track is excited to continue maintaining the energy needed to finish the season strong.

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