Who are your top runners currently, and can you characterize the type of runner you generally lure there?
The types of athletes who tend to apply to us are, in baseball terms, the Triple-A players. For the most part the kids winning NCAA titles are not applying to ZAP Fitness. Those athletes are taken care of by the individual shoes contracts and they can be a little more selective about where they want to live. The athletes applying to ZAP tend to be a little more of the emerging elites—the 16:10 to 16:20 female 5K’ers, the 28:50 male 10K types. As you know, there are more and more of those now.
Right now, I’d say the athlete who probably had the best year for us was David Jankowski, who just finished his first year with us. He was an Oklahoma State graduate. He won the [USATF National] Club Cross Country [Championships] in the fall and also ran 28:27 for 10K this year, which was about a 30-second PR. He ran a 13:40 5K and was fifth in the 10K at USA outdoors.
And then, one who’s a bit more of a veteran athlete for us on the women’s side is Allison Grace, who was a good runner in college but by no means anything exceptional. I think she ran 16:35 her senior year at Kentucky. She ran 15:47 this year and 32:54. She’s come a long, long way.
Are you actually in competition with some of the other programs for athletes and other resources, or is it the kind of situation where they’re doing their thing and you’re doing your own thing?
I would say more in the last couple years we are in competition with the likes of [the Hansons-Books Distance Project] and Team USA Minnesota and McMillan [Elite] for kids. We’re interviewing right now. We have a couple of athletes leaving—one retiring and one moving after five years here—so we have some fully-funded spots open for us. As these athletes are coming through here and going through the interview process, we’re finding that most of them are also interviewing with one, if not three, of the other programs that I just mentioned.
We don’t see that as a bad thing. I like the well-educated athlete who wants to get a feel for a number of programs.Next Page