Why many BYU cross country athletes started running

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A select group of runners from the BYU men’s and women’s cross country team recently shared how and why they got into distance running.

Distance running is usually viewed as a punishment for athletes in other sports when they aren’t performing at their best. Many people don’t understand why people get a thrill out of running mile after mile, week after week.

Although cross country is a team sport, the sports community refers to it as an individual sport. People always seem to question why runners decide to run. But that is why cross country is unique, because all within the same race, someone can be running for his or her team but then place as an individual.

Running can be a healthy hobby that leads to a good lifestyle. While running a long distance, an individual has time to think and refresh thoughts, but some people run for other reasons.

The BYU men's cross country team runs together at the Cougar invitational earlier this season. Photo courtesy BYU Athletics/ BYU photo
The BYU men’s cross country team runs together at the Cougar invitational earlier this season. (Photo courtesy BYU Athletics/ BYU photo)

For BYU women’s runner Andrea Harrison, it was a family affair.

“I was dragged to all of my siblings’ races growing up, so I was really familiar with the setting and how the sport worked,” Harrison said. “My parents also thought it would be a great outlet for the excessive energy that I had. My elementary school had a cross country program where you competed against all the other elementary schools in the area. When I ran my first race, I won the mile race by about a minute. From then on I just kept racing and loved it.”

Conner Peloquin, a BYU men’s runner, got into running at a later age than Harrison did.

“I started my freshman year in high school to stay in shape for soccer,” Peloquin said. “I thought I had a better future with it, and things weren’t going well for my soccer team, so I just stuck with running.”

Women’s cross country runner Carrie Jube found her love for running at a young age.

“In elementary school, we would have a fun run 5K at the end of every school year, and I’d do well in my age group, so people would always tell me I should do cross country in high school,” Jube said. “I had no idea what cross country even was at the time, but later on, my older sister joined the team and I decided to follow in her footsteps and give it a try too. I ended up loving it and have been running ever since.”

Kelsey Brown, a member on the BYU women’s cross country team, wanted to originally stay in shape for track and field.

“Going into my first year of high school, I was strictly a sprinter; (I wasn’t) planning on running anything that was a distance event, nothing over the 400,” Brown said. “I ended up working with the cross country team and began running the big 5Ks. I’m more of an 800-meter runner. Cross country is great to get my endurance up for the 800.”

Jonathan Nelson said he wasn’t sold on being a cross country runner at first.

“I wasn’t the most willing convert. I was gently nudged by family and members of the cross country team to give distance running a try,” Nelson said. “I eventually caught the track coach’s attention. He started informing me about meets. I started running well, and I’ve been running ever since.”

Cross country is a sport many participate in but few understand. Many runners do it to stay in shape. But for those like the BYU men and women distance runners, they begin to grow to love it. The run changes from a grueling activity to an opportunity to achieve great thoughts and distances.

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