The Summer of Solinsky
In 2010 Chris Solinsky, former American Record holder and current assistant track & field / cross country coach at the University of Florida, produced one of the most prolific years in American distance running. In fact, it was astonishing.
He famously became the first American to break 27:00 for 10,000m, establishing a national record of 26:59.60. To date, only one other American has produced a better mark in the event.
If you are in need something to fire you up, watch this tape of his final 2 laps.
Later that summer, Solinsky recorded 3 sub-13:00 performances in the 5,000m. He is the only American to do so. Ever. The next closest are Bob Kennedy (2) and Bernard Lagat (2), both U.S. record holders for the event, former and current, respectively.
Solinsky is one of my picks for a spot on the Mt. Rushmore of American distance running.
Our paths crossed while he was residing in Portland at the height and twilight of his professional running career. We struck up an acquaintance and I am thankful for it. He is a genuine and sincere human being. And a tough as nails competitor.
On occasion, he'd let me tag along for easy runs. We'd roll at a 5:40/mile - 5:20/mile clip the entire time. I'd be hammering every step while he'd be effortlessly skipping along. There was nothing "easy" about those outings for me.
A few years after his historic season, while on a run together I inquired, "In 2010, when you were on fire at what point did those sub-13:00 efforts get difficult — like, 400 meters to go?"
He turned to me with a bewildered look on his face, "I wish. I started suffering after the first 200m, every race."
I was shocked. I thought he was being sarcastic. I egged him on, "No way. You can't be serious Slo!"
He enlightened me, "This sport is not for the weak. The game we play is: 'see-who-can-stomach-being-in-the-hurt-locker-longest.' I may not look like I am miserable out there, but trust me, I am. My job is to endure suffering better than everyone else in the race."
And far more often than not, he did his job quite well.
Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm