Deer Isle—With the rain washing out all the spring sports except track this week, I caught up with runner Brendan Penfold to learn about his running with the George Stevens Academy track team this spring. Penfold placed second, behind GSA senior John Hassett, in the 800 meter and 1600 meter events at a six-school meet in Ellsworth on April 27.
Penfold has run cross country in the fall for three years and has improved steadily each year. Being able to compete with the George Stevens team not only allows him exposure to other events, but also provides valuable coaching advice on training and strategy from the GSA coach, Erich Reed.
First, let me retract some incorrect information I had written before. Brendan’s results do not count for GSA but rather as an individual for Deer Isle Stonington. He likes the camaraderie of training with other runners that push him to do better. Brendan feels running on the track feels lighter than running over the somewhat uneven terrain up and down hills for cross country.
He has tried out the 800m (1/2 mile), 1600m (mile), and 3200m (2 mile). Running all three in a single meet would be exhausting, and really impractical because the 3200m race is usually run right after 800m race. He likes the 3200m race other than it is eight times around the track, though his conditioning allows him to pace himself well.
He feels that running with two-time cross-country state champion John Hassett has improved his times over the spring. Running behind someone (so far everyone has run behind John) pushes him to run faster, and lowers his time. There is a lot of strategy in how hard to run in each segment of the race, especially in the longer races.
The one element that Brendan works hard on is conditioning. I asked him what he does in the winter, and he runs 30 miles a week out outside on the roads. That is true dedication but it is what it takes to be a top competitor. Being in top shape makes running something he enjoys doing which is good for such a demanding sport.
Brendan has set some high goals for this year. He wants to run at the collegiate level, and this is the track season where colleges will look at his performances, so he hopes to have good times in the state races. His goal is to get to the New England meet this year. To do this, he would have to be the top finisher in Class C or one of the other top six finishers overall. It is a lofty goal for this year— he placed seventh in the 3200 meter run and ninth in the 1600 meter run at the 2016 Class C state championships—but he is pushing to make up for a less than stellar showing at the state cross country championship meet last fall.
Looking ahead, Brendan sees that his toughest competitors are seniors this year, so he is hoping to continue his strong performances and be the top competitor next year. Certainly, with his attitude and dedication, he should be able to achieve that goal before he does get to run in college.