Stories And Inspiration
Trying Leads to USATF Junior Olympics for Former GO FAR RunnerSubmitted by Anonymous on Dec 17th 2014 - 8:00AM. | Perma Link
“Three point one miles, that’s crazy. That’s way too far.” That’s what junior Nolan Patrick thought when he heard about a GO FAR club his gym teacher was pushing. He had just run the mile at school. He did well for a fourth grader.
He signed up for GO FAR because so many other kids did, but he was skeptical. He wasn’t new to running, having been on trails with his dad. But the GO FAR 5K was his first race experience. “I was very nervous because I was a fourth grader and there were a lot of fifth graders,” Patrick said. “I thought, ‘I’ll go for the top 100.’” He got top four in his age group.
That first GO FAR season was the beginning for Patrick. “It really opened up my opportunity with running I guess.”
Now the Southwest Guilford High School cross country athlete has years of track experience behind him. He continued with GO FAR and went on to run middle school track and club track. That success propelled him to qualify in club track for 800-meter and 1500-meter events at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympic Championships in 2011 during his seventh-grade year.
The next summer, he qualified in the 1500-meter for the prestigious USA Track and Field (USATF) Junior Olympic Regionals in Maryland.
According to the USATF website, the Junior Olympic program is the most visible youth athlete development program worldwide, with about 70,000 young athletes competing in its Junior Olympic track and field and cross country programs annually. More than 6,000 athletes qualify for the national championships, which follow preliminary, association, and regional level performances.
In 2013, Patrick made it to the nationals. He qualified in club track in the 800-meter event and finished in the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships with a personal best of 2:03, placing 23rd nationally.
During Patrick’s sophomore year at SWHS, he won the conference meet and placed fourth in regionals to qualify for the state championship.
Patrick’s opportunities with running didn’t happen by accident. He knows the effort he’s put in. The first step was just trying.
“You really just have to get out there and try it,” he said. “You definitely have to try something before you rule it out as something you can or can’t do.
“I did GO FAR for years and I really didn’t start doing well until seventh or eighth grade, persistence I guess,” Patrick said. “Just going out there and completing a 5K at that [young] age is a huge accomplishment.”
Patrick’s accomplishments since that first race have been many. He still has goals though. He wants to run in college, get his times down. “There’s nothing keeping you from doing it if you put the work in. The time and effort you can put into that, the focus, it can be translated and applied to anything.”