You might not be able to pick out fourth-year Samuel Iser Jacobson from a crowd. At the very least, you'd have trouble distinguishing him from the kind of crowd he runs with. One of the many startlingly white, dangerously thin-looking Chicago distance runners, Jacobson's primary identifying physical feature over the past four years has been his meticulously kept five-o'clock shadow. On the track and on the road, the grizzled Maroon has been distinguished by success. He reached the peak of that success this fall, when he helped lead the men's cross-country team to the Division III national championship meet. Despite a plethora of tardy papers to turn in before graduation, Jacobson took time out to chat with the Maroon.
CM: How many miles a week do you run on average?
SJ: Well, that depends. More than 100 when I fancied myself a distance runner. Now, old and weary and running shorter races, I stay at around 50 or 60.
CM: What is the longest distance you've run in one day?
SJ: In my wild youth, last year, I would go 18 to 20 miles most Sundays. One Sunday last summer, I left Hyde Park running with some teammates, planning to stop at Navy Pier, but I wanted to check out the North Side, so I kept going. I called it a day when I got to Northwestern. Northwestern to U of C by CTA took longer than U of C to Northwestern on foot. It reminded me of the time [Olympic 200-meter champion] Shawn Crawford beat a giraffe over 100 meters. Well, not really, since the giraffe was distracted.
CM: What's your daily caloric intake?
SJ: Pierce loses money on me.
CM: Describe your most memorable or craziest running experience.
SJ: Any run that involves frozen appendages, thawed appendages, trails to nowhere, trails to somewhere, arguing, exploring, trespassing, running away from cops, negotiating with cops, or singing Springsteen is a good run. Any run that doesn't involve those things is a good run, too. When I know less at the end of a run than I did at the beginning, that's a memorable run.
CM: What is the running achievement you're most proud of?
SJ: Isn't pride the cardinal sin? The third-happiest moment of my running career was about a quarter mile from the finish line at the 2004 Cross-Country Regional Championships. I was hurting like crazy, but based on what I could see of my teammates, and what spectators were yelling about time and position, I had a pretty good notion that we were about to become the first squad in U of C cross-country history to qualify for nationals as a team. The second-happiest moment of my running career came a quarter-mile later, when I crossed the finish line and the pain started to go away, and I had an even better idea that we had probably qualified, judging from the smiles on U of C faces. But team scores were still in doubt. We needed top four. Things were close. The happiest moment of my running career was a few minutes later, when the official results came in, and we learned that the U of C had qualified for nationals. We had all set personal records in that race, but I don't think anyone cared. That's a great feeling, when your satisfaction with your own performance is totally dwarfed by your ecstatic feelings for your teammates and team. All I knew after that race was how happy I was to be wearing a Chicago jersey, which, incidentally, is the best school there is. So thank you to anyone involved in running, jumping, throwing, coaching us, feeding us, clothing us, or otherwise supporting us.
CM: I have often heard groups of distance runners shouting something that sounds like "hootie-hoo" at each other across campus. What exactly does this mean?
SJ: If you've ever heard a resounding "hootie-hoo" or "kawkaw" [sic], you've been in the vicinity of a cross-country runner greeting another cross country runner, or someone warning a buddy that the cops are close.