5 Good Minutes with Sarah Burnell!

Sarah Burnell-Grinnell-Grinnell©Grinnell Athletics

Sarah Burnell-Grinnell-Grinnell
©Grinnell Athletics

The 2012 cross country season is one that I will never forget. I knew it was going to be a special season, but I really surprised myself with the way it turned out. I had a lot of success during the previous track season and almost made it to outdoor nationals (I was number 23, one place out). However, that season or any other season for that matter, doesn’t even compare to this cross country season. My first meet went pretty well, but I knew I still had some room for improvement. Over the course of the season I kept improving, but it was the last three meets that really made my season.

The first of my final races was conference, I knew I was seeded with the fastest time, but I also knew the race was going to be challenging. When I won with a fifteen-second lead I couldn’t believe how much I had improved from last season. Instantly my eyes were set on making nationals. I put a lot of pressure on the regionals race and kept myself focused. I ended up finishing in the top ten which put me in a perfect position for nationals. The best part of this race was that my running partner also qualified, which meant we could experience nationals together.

The beginning of the race was over whelming. My running partner and I went out FAST. At the 1krp_primary_atnationals-1 mark we were definitely in the top 25 and finished the first mile in 5:37. There were so many people everywhere: spectators and runners covered the entire course. As we approached the two-mile mark the crowd had started to thin out, and I could think again. I focused my breathing and remembered to smile and enjoy this moment. Hearing my family, friends, and coaches cheer was great and encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone.

I started to pick people off one by one (I was never in short supply!) until we reached the final stretch to the finish. Never in my life had a finish felt so long. I passed a few girls in my final push to finish the race and knew I was in the top fifty of the field. The relief and joy I felt at that very moment is impossible to describe. Instantly my mind reflected on the hard work, pain, happiness, and love I had experienced and endured to reach this point. It was glorious and I will never forget it.



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