When I was in college, there was an older man, at least 40, who used to race the hurdles in our meets. He was intense, in shape, and in no way doing what a typical 40 year old man should do. I remember one of my teammates pointing him out to me, and saying, “You know that’s going to be you one day, right?”
The prediction was accurate. In 2017 I turned 40 and celebrated by waking up at 6:00 am to run a hurdles workout. 2018 will be my 26th consecutive year of hurdling in the 110m High and 400m Intermediate Hurdles. My PRs are 53.16 for the 400m IH, 14.85 for the 110 HH (42″), and 14.4 for the 39″. Although I can no longer run those times, I am the 3-time defending champion for my age group in the 400m Hurdles and I can still beat some college students half my age. I now train with an eye toward national and international Masters competitions, and will compete internationally in the years to come.
My essay “Still Hurdling After All These Years” (first written in 2007, updated in 2012 and in 2017) talks about why I keep getting out there year after year. I love the training and competition, and in both the Greater Boston Track Club and now the Twin Cities Track Club I’ve found others just as passionate as I am. You can see the GBTC hurdlers at play here and here.
Coaching and Training Advice
In addition to competing, I have had several opportunities to coach younger hurdlers. In Spring 2012 I served as a Volunteer Assistant Coach for the Loyola University New Orleans Track and Field team (Go Wolfpack!). I currently coach sprints and hurdles for the University of Minnesota Running Club.
If you’re interested, I’ve posted suggestions for hurdle beginners here, and suggestions for post-collegiate athletes here and here. If you’re nearby, and want to get in a workout or training session, please be in touch.
Below are my career highlights (though hopefully more are still to come!), and some of these are recorded as well in the track and field database all-athletics.
High School (St. Louis, MO)
I was introduced to the sport of track and field on the St. Louis University High School (SLUH) track team, under the coaching of Mr. Bill May and Mr. Tom McCarthy. My high school record 110 HH record time (14.4 hand) still stands as the fastest at my alma mater. I had a fun high school career, and capped it off with a 2nd in state performance in the 110m Hurdles. I was second-team all Metro in St. Louis, and first team all Area.
College (Harvard / University of Chicago)
While in high school I received interest from college coaches in Division I, II, and III. I ultimately chose to attend Harvard. Although I started college at Harvard, I transferred to the University of Chicago before running any meets for the Crimson.
The University of Chicago Track and Field team competes at the NCAA Div. III level, in the University Athletic Association conference. I competed for the Maroons from 1996-2001, using a year of red-shirt eligibility to compete in a “senior-plus” Spring 2001 season. My best season was 1999, when I competed in NCAA Div. III Nationals in Berea, Ohio. I ran 14.85 for the 110 hurdles and 53.16 for the 400m hurdles. My PR in the 400m hurdles (53.16) is recorded for all to see in my All-Athletics profile. (Though note that they have my birth date wrong and don’t list my other PRs correctly.)
My first year at Chicago, my coach was Mike Orechia, who now coaches at the University of Puget-Sound. Coach Orechia was the coach who recruited me, and the coach who helped me transition when I came in from Harvard. I have always been grateful for all that he did to facilitate a smooth transition. He was a hurdler himself in college, and really knew his stuff. My head coach for the remainder of my years was 3-time Olympian, and U.S. distance running legend, Jim Spivey. Coach Spivey brought a championship perspective that helped me see the possibilities of track and field. I frequently use one of Spivey’s mottos to guide both my training and my life: success derives from “consistent training over time.”
The coach who really taught me the hurdles, however, was our assistant coach Rafeal “Ray” Williams. Ray is not only a hurdles guru, but an incredibly generous person who has more energy than anyone I have ever met. He can light up a room in seconds. He taught me what I know about hurdles, and he taught me a lot about how to go about living life.
Post-Collegiate (Greater Boston Track Club, Twin Cities Track Club)
When I moved to Boston for graduate school (returning to Harvard), I thought at first that I wouldn’t keep competing in track. I had just spent a year training, only to be hit with an injury, and I wasn’t in the mood to do that again. I also thought I’d have a lot more time without track on the schedule. Within two months, I realized that I wasn’t ready to give it up.
I first joined the Athletics East (AE) track club, and competed for them in the 2001-02 season. I competed again for AE for the first half of the 2002-03 season, and I had my first opportunity to compete in the Penn Relays. It was after my 400m Hurdles race at Penns, when I was sitting with my father in the stands, that I saw the Greater Boston Track Club.
I had come to know some of the GBTC folks by face, since we competed at similar meets all season. During the Indoor 2003 season, a sprinter/mid-distance GBTC athlete named Josh Seeherman saw me at a BU Indoor meet and suggested that I join GBTC so that they could run a Shuttle Hurdles relay team. With that thought already in my head, watching the relays run at Penn convinced me that I should be on a club where I could train with a pack of sprinters. I contacted GBTC Sprints Coach Dave Callum, and competed with them for the first time at 2003 USATF Club Nationals. At the 2005 Penn Relays, I ran with Matt Collins, Mat Lemaire, and Dan Conti, and we won the 440m Shuttle Hurdle Relay!
Training and competing with GBTC has been, and continues to be, an incredible experience. Highlights include the 2003 Club Nationals, when I ran a 48.5 leg on a 3:12.81 4x400m relay team; being the USATF New England 400m Hurdles club champion six times (2002-2006; 2011); and winning the shuttle hurdle relay at Penn in 2005. In 2008 I competed in my first ever Masters competitions (the 30-34 age group), and I was inspired to see some hurdlers over 75 years old! If they can keep hurdling, so can I. I was 3rd in 110m Hurdles at USATF Club National Championships (San Francisco, CA) in July 2010. As of August 2012, I moved to the Twin Cities, where in 2013 and 2014 I placed first in the 110 and 400 Hurdles at the USATF MN Outdoor Championships. I have run multiple age-graded All-American times in the past few years, and am proud to be the 3-time defending national champion in my age group for the 400m Hurdles at the USA Track and Field Masters Championships.
In Minnesota I have joined up with the Twin Cities Track Club. TCTC founder Mike Reneau is building a great program, and we need more post-collegiate and Masters sprinters, hurdlers, and jumpers. If you are a hurdler or sprinter in the area, please drop me a note.