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The Running Reader: Running with the Buffaloes in 10 quotes

With University of Colorado shooting for the three-peat at this weekend’s NCAA Cross Country Championships, our minds have returned to Running with the Buffaloesthe defining book of US cross country running and one of the finest books of the whole running genre. Like many of the world’s greatest books, it’s even been subject of a campaign to ban it from public schools. Placing no.2 in Competitor.com’s recent list of the 25 Greatest Running Booksof all time, it’s a cult classic that tells the story of the University of Colorado cross country team’s 1998 season. Along the way you witness success, sage training advice courtesy of Coach Mark Wetmore, tragedy, and ultimately success, when (spoiler alert) Adam Goucher wins the NCAA cross country title.

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What follows are the Tracksmith team’s top 10 defining quotes from Running with the Buffaloes:

1 Wednesday August 26, 1998 Wetmore’s Office, Balch Gym

“What joy is there,” (Wetmore) says, “in being cavalier about your life or your endeavors? You should take your life, your joy, your endeavors, seriously.”

2 Friday August 28, 1998. Kitt Field

Why are they here at 6:30? It makes their lives a little more difficult, and that serves to callous them a little more and develop a shared sense of sacrifice.

3 Wednesday September 16, 1998 Balch Gym

While most of his teammates come from relatively secure financial backgrounds, Goucher does not. Winning the NCAA title will have a tremendous impact on his future. He knows his priorities. “If it comes to getting an A in class or getting rest for Nationals, I’m gonna get my rest! The rest is what’s going to help my marketability.” Given Goucher’s situation, Wetmore voices his approval.

4 Friday September 18, 1998 Balch Gym

“I don’t need to build you up. I don’t want you to leave here smashing your head against the wall. Be businesslike, patient, and methodical. Do a little head smashing every day for 100 days.” –Mark Wetmore

5 Tuesday October 13, 1998 Potts Field

The mood is quiet and somber as Wetmore emerges from his office. He tells everyone to sit down. In a strong and sure voice that camouflages his intense grief, he begins, “The qualities we admire here are faith, endurance and courage. We go back to practicing those values today. If we asked Sev if we should race this weekend, Sev would say, ‘No doubt about it.’ The route past grief is through it. We’re going to go on from here, and go ahead with the business at hand.”
As Wetmore speaks, Goucher and Reese sit next to one another, hands grasping knees, heads bowed, silently sobbing along with most everyone in the field house.

6 Thursday October 15, 1998 UMC

In many ways, a race is analogous to life itself. Once it is over, it can not be re-created. All that is left are impressions in the heart, and in the mind.

7 Tuesday October 27, 1998 Potts Field

“I hope you didn’t eat lunch today. But if you did, no puking in lane one.”

Thursday November 19, 1998 Potts Field

This race is all that is left for Goucher, and in some ways, for Wetmore, too. If Goucher does not win, he will not attain the goal he set for himself as a prep at Doherty High. Wetmore tells Goucher that it is just a race, but his thoughts and actions reveal that it means more.

Monday November 23, 1998 Rim Rock Farm, Lawrence, Kansas

On the morning of the most important race of his life, (Goucher) writes, “I woke up pretty tired.” He has his traditional pre-race meal of Pop Tarts and Gatorade and then decides to walk to vent his frustrations and clear his mind.

10 Monday November 23, 1998 Rim Rock Farm, Lawrence, Kansas

The announcer starts blasting over the PA just as the massive crowd reaches full volume, “Here he is, let’s bring him home, the University of Colorado senior.” The banner is less than one hundred meters away; he knows the race is his. He shakes his fist at the crowd…. He knows he has done it. “For something to hurt that bad, and feel so good, it’s just inexplicable.” Adam Goucher crosses the line in 29:26.

Do your book shelves a favor and buy a copy of Running with the Buffaloes from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Inspired by the Magnolia Road, referenced throughout Running with the Buffaloes, we’ve recently launched a new short, the Magnolia. It brings race day pace to everyday training. Get it at Tracksmith.com

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