By Whit Rasmussen
For the UC curriculum, every student is required to complete a physical wellness course. Walking, fencing, ping-pong, triathlon and basketball are just a few of the many classes to choose from. For my wellness credit, I decided to check off a bucket list item and signed up for marathon training. I couldn’t hide the sense of accomplishment when I added the class to my upcoming semester list. That is, until I actually realized signing up for the class meant running 26.2 miles. For any cross country or track runners out there, 26.2 miles might not seem too daunting. For a mildly in-shape College sophomore just looking to check off a bucket list item, every long weekend run felt like finals week all over again.
To this day, almost a year after my marathon training, I attribute all of our class’s success to our professor, David Bertrand. Professor Bertrand educated, trained and inspired us through the grueling 3-month training program. Even though the class only met two times a week, we obviously had to train much more. Professor Bertrand often sacrificed a great deal of his time every week to schedule outside training runs, provide nutrition and training advice, or just hang out and have a good time.
As the weeks flew by and the marathon date moved closer and closer, what once seemed like a distant, unrealizable goal – to run 26.2 continuous miles – now seemed entirely possible. The sore legs, blistered feet and mental exhaustion became more and more bearable – our small class of 11 runners could feel the excitement looming. We were about to become marathoners! The final days leading up to the race seemed to take an eternity. Could we actually finish? In the end, the marathon was canceled due to the “icepocalypse” ice storm in December 2013. We were all clearly upset, we couldn’t achieve our final goal, 26.2 miles now seemed farther away than ever. Less than an hour after receiving the fateful email from the race directors, informing us of the cancelation, Professor Bertrand sent a follow up. It is hard to sum up an experience like training for a marathon in college with 11 other students, but Professor Bertrand’s email did just that. He reminded us of the amazing feat we had all accomplished.
Every runner in the class was prepared for that race and I have no doubt we all would have finished the race. Professor Bertrand reminded us that the race is not what mattered. The class was all about the experience of training for a marathon and succeeding. We all completed the training; all grew extremely close as friends and would never forget the lessons learning during that 3-month span. To this day, I remain in contact with everyone in my class and Professor Bertrand. The 11 runners in my class embody what is true of so many SMU students – we are ambitious, dedicated and committed to helping each other succeed. Marathon training wellness class is just one of an endless amount of examples. When you come to visit campus, ask other students to share their stories and I’m sure you will hear something very similar. If you choose to make SMU your home for the next four years, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Pony Up!