2013 Track Chats: Distance Ace Ben Saarel

Ben Saarel executed a perfect race to win the Arcadia 3200m in 8:45.74 and then the Mt. SAC mile in 4:08.55. (Photo by Image of Sport)


Ben, what a huge PR in the 3200! And a 4:14 closing 1600, 2:00 800 and 55.2 last lap must have been thrilling to pull off. Congratulations on the great Arcadia victory!


MileSplit - What stands out as the most exciting thing this school year with what you have accomplished in Foot Locker and now this?

Ben - The most exciting opportunities this year were running in the Foot Locker National XC Championship and the Arcadia 3200m Invitational race. 

MileSplit - What is it like coming down from altitude to run at a meet like this at sea level? What effect does it have on you if any?

Ben - I’ve learned that it’s easy to over train at altitude. If I run too hard in practice, my legs are dead for any race. I struggled with tired legs on and off my sophomore and junior years. This year I’ve been smarter during training, and my legs have felt much better when I race. I’ve noticed that one of the advantages of altitude training is that I don’t have to run a lot of miles to get a great workout.

MileSplit - What goals have you thought about for the 2013 track season? How fast do you think you can go and in what events?

Ben - I don’t have specific goals. I try to run well in every race. I’ll experiment with different strategies depending on the race and the day.

MileSplit - When & how did you get started in track & field?

Ben - My sister, Emma, encouraged me to go out for cross-country as a freshman at West High School. When I transferred to Park City High School for my sophomore year, I learned that they had a good running program, so I joined the cross-country team. I liked the coaches and my teammates, so I decided to try track.

MileSplit - Person/people most influential to your success in track & field?

Ben - Several people have significantly influenced my running. My sister’s club coach, Tony Glover, got me off to a good start my freshman year, and he helped me prepare for the USATF Jr. XC Nationals. Coach Wyant and Coach Cuttitta, my Park City coaches, have taught me that running is a gradual process and that I need to be patient. They’ve encouraged me to try to improve a bit every year. Coach Wyant had some concerns about my running technique towards the end of my sophomore year and put me in contact with Jim Walker, PhD, who is the Sports Science Director at TOSH. Dr. Walker taught me how to run; I had some terrible habits from playing years of soccer. He has a tremendous knowledge of the sport, and I learn a lot about running whenever I have the opportunity to talk with him. 

MileSplit - Keys to your successful training program?

Ben - I run every day. I listen to my coaches, but I also have to figure out what works best for me and communicate those ideas to my coaches. A healthy diet is important. Sleep!

MileSplit - Your favorite track & field meet and?

Ben - I love going to Arcadia. It's the first big outdoor track meet of the year and the atmosphere is fantastic! I also really look forward to the BYU Invitational and the Utah State meet at BYU, again, great atmosphere and a fast track. 

MileSplit -Your favorite performance in track & field?

Ben - Mo Farah and Galen Rupp sometimes train at the Park City High School track. I had the opportunity to meet them and their coach, Alberto Salazar. Watching them win gold and silver in the 10,000m at the London Olympics was fantastic!

MileSplit - Fellow athlete(s) you most enjoy competing against?

Ben - I enjoy competing against anyone.

MileSplit - Your greatest experience in track & field so far?

Ben - My greatest experiences this year were running in the Foot Locker National XC Championship and the Arcadia 3200m Invitational race.

MileSplit - What are your long-term goals in track & field?

Ben - Long term, I’m very excited about running for the University of Colorado and Coach Wetmore, Coach Burroughs and Coach Nelson and with the team. I know I have a lot more to learn, but I'm looking forward to the process and the challenge.


The Fun Run

Favorite food?

Ben - Lamb Vindaloo

Beach or Pool?

Ben - Beach

Facebook or Twitter?

Ben - Facebook

Going out or chilling at home?

Ben - Chilling at Home


Ben's MileSplit Athlete Profile...



Video of Ben's winning 4:08.55 race at Mt. SAC

Interviews with Ben after the Mt. SAC race