The final weekend before the adidas Grand Prix featured just one spot left in the High School Boys Dream Mile, inspiring preps nation-wide to go all-out at their state meets in hopes of snagging the final invitation. In the above video, watch Joe Klecker of Hopkins High School break the Minnesota All-Time State Record in the 1600m with a time of 4:06.54. That time ranks U.S. No. 5 this year, as Klecker not only earned the state record but the final invitation to the adidas Dream Mile.
MileSplit talked to Klecker after his historic run.
Joe Klecker broke the Minnesota All-Time State Record in the 1600m with a 4:06.
Congratulations on a big weekend for you at the state meet, starting off with finally winning your first state title in the 3200. How did the race play out for you and how much did that first state title mean to you?
The 3200 at state played out how most 3200s did this season. I led from the gun and didn't look back. I didn't run as well as I would have liked, I was out late at my graduation ceremony the night before and didn't feel like my normal self but I still won.
You came back on Saturday to break the Minnesota all-time state record in the 1600 as well with a 4:06 PR performance, closing in a sub 2 minutes for final 800. Did you believe you could close that fast in a race?
The 1600 went out slow. I assumed it would be tactical, 64 through the first quarter, but I found the strength to close in 1:59 and run 4:06. Also this race I led wire to wire but had some people hanging off of me at times until the final lap in 59.
MileSplit: How did you first get started running?
Joe: I started when I was in elementary school. When my older brother would go out and run, I'd tag along with him.
Your parents were both accomplished runners themselves; what role did they play in your running?
They offer race advice based on their experience, for example, when something on race day doesn't go as planned, just roll with it and don't let it affect you.
What would you consider some of your top moments and races from your first three years of high school running?
Making NXN this year. I set this goal for myself in 7th grade. That year, my goal was to not get last....I was 4th to last. On the track, my most proud moment was my state 1600 this year when I thought it was going to be tactical as we took it out in 64 but then I closed in a 1:59 and pr'd by three seconds and ran 4:06.
What do you consider as some of your biggest areas of growth as a runner since your underclassmen years to now entering your final races as a high school senior?
My biggest growth has come in my strength to be able to double well. And also my kick, I used to be slow as a snail. I think freshman year I could barely break 60 in a quarter.
This past cross country season, you qualified for your first national meet at Nike Cross Nationals and finished 47th in Oregon. What did it mean to you to finally get over that hump and make it to a national meet and what did you feel you gained from that first experience?
It was huge to make NXN. I was extremely disappointed with my race so much so I went straight into training for track with a 64 mile week.
Earlier in the season, you ran an impressive then US #1 time of 8:50 in the 3200 at the Dakota Relays. Talk about that race and what your expectations were going in and how it all unfolded for you to put together that PR, national leading time?
That race at Howard wood was a solid effort. I was on 4:27 pace and then unconsciously ran a 63 sixth lap. There were close to 50 people in that field and my last two laps were in lanes 2 and 3. I think I may have been a couple seconds faster without this.
Did the 8:50 3200 performance at the Dakota Relays really change how you viewed the rest of your season in relation to goals and plans to compete in top post-season meets against the nation's best?
Yes and no. I got the Brooks PR Invite which changed the view of my season but going into the race, my goal was 8:50.
You compete in one of the toughest sections in Minnesota for distance races including top programs like Wayzata and Edina. What is it like competing in such a tough section over the years and has it benefited you facing those top guys from those two programs over the years often?
Section 6AA has honestly made me the runner I am. To give a reference on how hard it is, Edina did not make state but then made NXN. Our section 3200 had I believe 6 people under 9:20, 4 under 9:08. When you get to race these guys every week you have no choice but be fully dedicated to your training or you won't make the state meet.
At your recent sectional meet, you pulled off quite an impressive double running 8:54 in the 3200 on day one and 4:09 1600 PR on day two. How pleased were you with those times and your fitness to pull off such a double?
In the process, I was deciding on Minnesota and Colorado. At first I was very scared to move away from home. I really liked both schools and programs but eventually I decided training for Wetmore and living in a different state was a once in a lifetime opportunity I couldn't pass up.
What made you ultimately decide on the University of Colorado?
I will be honest, when I took my first visit at Colorado I did not even know they won nationals the year before. I was road tripping to Colorado and my mom made me visit, I talked with Billy Nelson for a while and really fell in love with the program but never thought it could be reality with 5 other siblings.
Is the long hair going to remain your style into college?
Long hair will probably remain in college, maybe some small trims but in Boulder I think my hair in considered short.
Joe Klecker finished in third place at the 2014 NXN Heartland Regional to qualify for Nike Cross Nationals.
What is a typical week of training like for you? What kind of mileage do you normally put in weekly?
A typical week of training this winter included a long run (14-16 miles), three 8-12 mile runs (with continuous strides for 2 miles) then a treadmill tempo workout (example: 3X2mile at 9:50, 9:40, 9:30) then a treadmill hill workout (example: quarter mile at 4% alternated by quarter mile at flat at 5:20 pace for 5 miles), then an easy day (6-8 miles). I do 99% of my miles in singles and peaked around 80 a week this winter. Also, I do hard workouts in the winter on treadmills because MN winters often have bad footing with ice, snow etc.
What would you consider as your biggest setback in your high school running and how did you overcome it?
My biggest setback was when I came off third place state finish in cross my sophomore year then had a great winter of training and ran an indoor 9:17 2 mile then was out for the track season with achilles tendonitis. Once I was over that, I trained for 6 weeks and ran a 25:00 5 mile, then got a stress fracture in my back, I overcame that and ran for three weeks and got a stress fracture in my foot that lasted until the February before my junior track season. During my the time in the summer before my junior year when I had a stress fracture in my back, I biked 40-100 miles a day followed by an hour of seated row, followed by 40 minutes of lap swimming/aqua jogging and 30 minutes of general strength and balance training. This year's string of injuries is what has made me as tough as I am.
You are racing in the post-season at the Brooks PR invitational two mile against one of the best fields ever assembled at that distance. How fast do you think you could run a full two mile in a field like that and what are you hoping to get out of the trip?
My biggest goal is to just compete with the best if I had to put a time goal out there it would be to run a 8:43 3200 equivalent which is the all-time state record set by Elliot Heath.
Track and fields runs in the family for the Kleckers, but Joe has raced into his own as one of the best all-time high school distance runners in the state of Minnesota.
Pre-race pump-up song: Anything wu-tang clan or "If I can't" by 50 cent
Guilty pleasure meal: Double Stuff Golden Oreos
Favorite movie: Pursuit of Happiness
Favorite book: Running with the Buffaloes
If you could have dinner with any 3 people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
1. Lukas Verzbicas because his story is a huge inspiration and I feel he could offer a lot of insight on how to preservere.
2. Chris Solinsky because he was the first pro runner I ever talked to other than my parents at Nike regional in 7th grade. I'd like to ask how to run 26:59.
3. Ben Blankenship/ Will Leer because both are from Minnesota, have great hair and are very fast.