BYU students will have the chance to run with an Olympian on Wednesday, Oct. 19, when marathoner and adjunct professor Jared Ward leads the Running Club around campus before offering a Q&A session on the outdoor track.
“It’s an opportunity for people to meet an Olympic runner,” club president Josh Mathias said. “He’ll share his experience about the Olympics, and people can get advice from him.”
Ward graduated from BYU and currently works as an adjunct professor in the statistics department. He wrote his master’s thesis on marathon pacing, and he took sixth place in the Olympic Marathon in Rio de Janeiro. It took Ward 2 hours, 11 minutes and 30 seconds to run 26.2 miles, a personal best.
Mathias said Ward came to a Running Club event last year and is generous about spending his time with prospective runners.
“He’s very willing to meet with the Running Club,” Mathias said. “He’s excited.”
The BYU Running Club meets daily to run. Runs are held Monday through Friday at 6:30 a.m. and Saturday at 7:30 a.m. Specific workouts are posted on the club’s Facebook page, and the club welcomes runners of all speed and experience.
“It’s something that really anyone can come to,” presidency member Joseph Moore said. “It’s a good opportunity to make friends.”
Sam Garrard, another member of the club presidency, said the club uses workouts from the BYU track and field team twice a week. Garrard said the workouts are similar to workouts BYU athletes do, which helps runners improve.
None of the club presidency members were on the cross-country team, but they still wanted to improve their times and become better runners. Their motivation drove the expansion of the club.
“Since we weren’t on the cross-country team, there was nothing else,” Garrard said.
Moore was a high school athlete who said he missed being part of a team when he came to BYU.
“A lot of people really enjoy the team aspect of cross-country,” Moore said. “But there’s nothing like that in college, so (the club) gives that to them.”
The presidency plans to keep expanding and moving forward.
“We really want to build the running community in Provo,” Moore said. “A big part of that right now is building a training group of people that can come to run.”
The club typically meets in the parking lot on the west side of BYU’s outdoor track. People interested in running with Ward can meet on the track at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 19. The Q&A session will be held on the track at approximately 5 p.m.
“You kind of dream when you see someone like that,” Moore said. “You think maybe that could be me someday. It’s really motivating when you have running heroes.”