Harrison Witt is a recent graduate of Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. He will continue his track and field career at Princeton University in the fall. This spring, Witt set two Colorado state records in the 800m and 1,600m, posting times of 1:48.50 and 4:05.18. His half-mile time was the first sub-1:50 effort by a Colorado high schooler. Starting today and going through Saturday, he will compete at the CHSAA State Outdoor Championships in the 800m and 1,600m. He wrote this Dear Running letter ahead of the final track and field meet of his high school career.
"I came into this sport concerned with how fast I could run and how well I could place. The first lesson you taught me, Running, was a large serving of humility; it was the realization that I cannot succeed in this sport alone."
Each race we toe the line next to dozens of other athletes with similar goals and desires. We train next to teammates and compete against figurative enemies. We are constantly surrounded by our coaches and families, and spectators and fans.
Yet somehow each time I step on to the track and anticipate the gun going off, I am alone. For just a couple minutes every week, my destiny is completely and utterly up to me. I am in control of my mindset, my pace, my breathing and my effort. I decide whether I will push my limits and honor the work that I have put in. I have the power to leave the stadium feeling exhilarated and empowered, and I have the same power to walk away disappointed knowing I had more to give.
I run alone in these moments, and yet I carry the spirits of thousands of Mountain Vista athletes that have come before me.
I run for the athletes that have paved the way for the path that I am on and who have laid the foundation for the training I log. These former runners are the talk of legend at practice -- their intensity, their integrity and their desire were brought up daily and idolized by our team. And so I race on behalf of these runners, the ones that spent four years of their lives dedicated to the goals I am chasing too.
Each time I lace up my spikes, I take a moment and remember the generations of runners who did the same before me.
I race to honor the green and gold jersey I wear on my back.
I came into this sport concerned with how fast I could run and how well I could place. The first lesson you taught me, Running, was a large serving of humility; it was the realization that I cannot succeed in this sport alone.
You have taught me to surround myself with people who are strong in areas where I am weak. They are the same people who can push me to the next level. You have taught me patience when my progress plateaued. You taught me grit by throwing tempo runs at me and seeing what it would take to make me give up.
You taught me resilience by making me bounce back from injury and you taught me that consistency is key. Most importantly, you helped me discover the true motivation for why I compete.
I don't do it for the medals, the records, or for all of the pretty girls that I can impress.
I compete for the people that support me each and every day. I race to honor the sacrifices they make for me. Thank you, running, for helping me find my why.
Mountain Vista High School, '21
CONTRIBUTE TO THIS SERIES
If you are a track and field athlete or coach interested in contributing to this series at the state or national level, please send your essay to MileSplit USA editor Cory Mull at email@example.com, or to your local MileSplit editor in your respective state.
Read the full series here.