Hello Running Club, my name is Evan Hatton, this fall will mark the start of my junior year at The Ohio State University. I am a Physical Education Teacher Education major, and thanks to switching into said major relatively late in the game, you guys all get to hang around my sunny outlook on life for an extra year! Outside of running, I take naps, eat at Tai’s, hate Paul Bete and work at a running store. I guess that’s still kind of running. Whatever, the point is, my life revolves around running.
I ran my first 5k when I was eight years old, it was somewhere in the 26:00 range and I know I wore wristbands and a skin tight Under Armour shirt. I didn’t expect much to come out of that. Fast forward a few years, I’m still tall, still skinny and still suck at everything that requires hand eye coordination (except kendama, but you guys get to see enough of that during the year). I had had stints in baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, even tennis. And I sucked. At all of them. My dad finally convinced me to try cross country when I was going into 8th grade. In my first 3000 meter race in middle school, I ran 16:50. 9:01 mile pace. Possibly worse than I had been at any other sport up to that point. I was routinely losing to girls, which when you’re 13, is actually the worst thing ever.
This time though, something was different. I wasn’t being beaten down on by kids that were bigger than me, I wasn’t standing in right field waiting for a middle schooler to hit a ball out of the infield. I was accepted. I was having fun. In just two months, I dropped from that 16:50 to 12:00. 6:26 mile pace.
That drive that I had developed in those couple months quickly vanished going into my freshman year of high school. I struggled early with the increased workload, and routinely found myself skipping practice with another teammate. After being caught slacking hard by my coach and multiple other teammates, I knew I needed a change. I considered quitting. But what else did I have to turn to at this point? I had already tried to find my place everywhere else. I stuck it out. I showed up to every practice from that point on. I got dropped a lot, but I was there. My first 5k race was completed in 26:50. 8:38 mile pace. But I was determined. By the end of my freshman year I had run my first sub 6:00 mile, my first sub 20:00 5k, and I was happy.
Another quick fast forward to my senior year of high school. I was taller, stronger, and most importantly, faster. I opened up the season with a top 25 finish at the largest race of the year, finishing in 16:48. 5:24 mile pace. I finished in the top 20 in every race I ran my senior year and helped to lead my team to our fourth straight state championship appearance.
Unfortunately, a fibular stress fracture decided that my final cross country race would be the perfect time to ruin everything and I struggled to a 207th place finish, running 19:10 for my final 5k. Even though we finished 8th in Pennsylvania, I was devastated. All the hard work I had put in up to that point felt like such a waste. But I thought back to when I was 13 years old and how far I had come since then. I didn’t want a 207th place finish at states to be my legacy. I wanted more.
I chose The Ohio State University because I wanted a big school and I didn’t want to go to Pitt or Penn State like 50% of my graduating class. I knew about club running from an old teammate who told me I should try it out and at the fabled Welcome Week Run on a warm August evening, I found my home.
From dueling it out with Jack Schlabig and Aaron Bhatoya (please come back) over the last two miles of a farm loop, countless Tai’s trips, sharing many hotel beds with Nick Bandy, and getting called out every time we run up a hill, the Ohio State Running Club is my family. Though I had a disappointing finish to cross country last year, a bout with mono, a peritonsillar abscess, and multiple Achilles injuries kinda messed up my sophomore year, I’m back and I’m ready. I love running more than anything on this earth. Running is the reason I roll out of bed at 5:25 in the morning, its the reason I’m asleep at 10:00 on weekends. It is the reason I live.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Jake Robertson, a New Zealand distance runner who left his life behind to train in Kenya and become the best runner he could be:
“We saw those guys and where they came from, and they’ve worked hard and now they’ve got what they were looking for.”
See you in the fall.