Chicago Maroon: What are some of the differences between running in high school and at the college level?
Griffin Brunk: High school and college running really differ in two ways for me. First, the friendship level. In high school, my main group of friends was from my classes: I saw the same people every day, in the same place, at the same time. Here, not so much, as the variety of classes and interests seem to make it less likely to have familiar faces in a lot of your classes. As such, the team really became my social circle. UC Running’s motto is “team on three, family on six,” and for me, that is absolutely true. Second difference is the mileage. High school mileage was something like 49 miles a week, probably less since I never ran on Sunday. Here, most of us hit 60 to 70 miles a week. That’s a big jump, both in wear and tear on the legs, as well as just how much time we spend on the roads.
CM: What’s the craziest (but still appropriate) thing you can tell me about the men’s cross-country team?
GB: I’d say the amount we can eat. We are talking serious amounts of food every meal. We will each usually down three to five Bartlett plates, a bowl of cereal, [some] fruit and cookies, and a couple glasses of Gatorade for each meal, more if the ice cream bar has pirate’s booty or cookies and cream. This leaves us full for approximately 30 minutes before we end up scrounging around for something to snack on. It is not uncommon for the third floor of the Reg (where the team congregates to do work) to crinkle with the sound of chips and candy wrappers.
CM: What’s something that someone not on a cross-country team would never know about running, or specifically about the sport/competition?
[img id="110755" align="left"/]GB: I don’t think that non-runners really know just how good racing feels. I will be the first to tell you that racing can suck: It hurts, you’re tired, and you constantly ask yourself why you continue to do this stupid sport. But eventually, you just find a rhythm, a pace that you settle into and just cruise through the rest of the race. By the end, you have this intoxicating sense of accomplishment, both for beating the race, as well as that annoying gremlin in your head telling you to slow down and drop out.
CM: When did you begin running? How old were you?
GB: I started running in sixth grade, by maternal fiat. This one day in the summer before sixth grade, my mom told me to put on some athletic clothes. I apparently needed new shoes, and she wanted to “make sure the shoes worked when I was active.” With hindsight this statement is clearly hogwash, but sixth-grade Griffin was not a bright bulb. Anyway, we hopped in the family van, and away we went. However, rather than a shoe store/mall/mercantile establishment of any sort, she drove to the local middle school and punted me into a throng of similarly clad kids. I was summarily informed that I now ran cross country, and that she would see me at the end of practice. That last bit was simultaneously a promise and a threat.