400-meter race is one of the toughest in sports | PostIndependent.com

400-meter race is one of the toughest in sports

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jeff Caspersen Post Independent
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LAKEWOOD, Colorado ” It’s not the most popular event. That’s probably because it’s the most grueling.

The 400-meter dash is a punishing test of speed and endurance. Mustering the resolve to leg out that final 50 meters, with legs of mush and oxygen-starved lungs, is one of the more trying feats in all of sports.

And it just so happens Glenwood Springs has a pair of athletes with both the talent ” and the needed heart ” for 400 success.

Connor Riley and Meg Waibel snuck into Saturday’s Class 4A state track and field meet finals with qualifying runs at Lakewood’s Jefferson County Stadium on Friday.

Riley clocked in at 50.66 seconds in the boys 400, which constituted a seventh-best prelim time, while Waibel punched her finals ticket with a 59.9-second prelim run, good for eighth.

And those were some painful seconds for both Riley and Waibel.

“It kills you,” said Riley, breathing heavily after finishing third in his preliminary heat. “Your legs are burning and you start seeing things. You’re dizzy. You’ve definitely got to be a mentally tough person.”

All comes with the 400 territory. Maintaining a near-full sprint for a quarter mile takes a lot out of you.

Just ask Waibel.

“It’s a love-hate thing,” she said. “After all the pain, it’s great. You feel a lot better about what you just did. Coach always tells me to run 90 percent until that last curve. When you don’t have anything left, you have to try to find something.”

The coach Waibel spoke of, Demons track and field frontman Blake Risner, has made the 400 the core of his track program. He knows that, through the pain the event inflicts, better overall athletes are developed.

“The kids are constantly working hard to be good quarter milers,” he said. “The 400 is the nucleus of our program. It develops sprinters’ endurance makes middle distance runners faster.”

That said, Risner’s athletes aren’t always eager to tackle that taxing lap.

“There’s definitely a lot of complaining,” Waibel joked. “People typically like the shorter sprints.”

Count Riley among those who aren’t all that fond of the 400. He just happens to be good at it.

“I don’t really like it,” he said rather flatly. “It’s just what I’m best at. I do it for the team, to get the team points.”

Whether they like it or not, Risner’s happy to have two talented quarter milers.

“It takes a lot of heart,” the longtime Glenwood coach said, “and those two have that.”


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