Records Are On Connor Burns' Mind In 2023. So Is Legacy.

Photo Credit: Instagram

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By Ian Decker - MileSplit Correspondent

    At one point in the hype video, the screen cuts to a chalkboard where someone has written their goal of the day.

    'Beat Connor Burns.'

    It most certainly did not happen.

    Last year, Burns, a senior from Southern Boone High School in Missouri, became the second-fastest junior of all time at the Festival of Miles when he ran 3:58.83 in the mile. After cracking four minutes in June, Burns was mobbed by fellow runners who enveloped the speedster in a congratulatory jumble to celebrate the accomplishment.

    Last spring, he set personal records in the 800 meters (1:51.00), the 1,600m (4:06.49), the mile (3:58.83), the 3,000m (8:11.00), the 3,200m (8:48.76) and the two-mile (8:45.00). He won a national title in the two-mile at Brooks to end his season. 

    With the spring season impending, the easy question is this: What will be his encore be in 2023, and what keeps him driving forward?



    "The guys [Coach Schumacher] brought in this year and is going to bring in next year, it's gonna be a really deadly team in a few years. So that kind of sold me on the vision in a few years, and this team is gonna be insane."

    "See how many national records I can break," Burns told MileSplit recently. "I mean, you've got the 5K, the two-mile, mile. (They're) are all looking pretty vulnerable right now. So definitely want to not only break those but probably put them away for a while."

    Of the many marks he is striving for, one is the two-mile record of 8:39.15. This past weekend, he was nine seconds shy of the mark, clocking 8:48.53 at the CYUP Misfits Invitational in Chicago. 

    The son of the former head men's cross country and track and field coach at the University of Missouri, Burns was surrounded by Division I athletes as a kid.

    Being raised around a plethora of collegiate athletes taught him, a runner with an abundance of natural talent, what he needed to do to succeed at higher levels.

    * Burns competing at the CYUP Misfits Invitational

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    "Growing up in that environment, being around a lot of Mizzou guys, having them as coaches was pretty cool," Burns said. "Those are some good role models, show how to train at that level. And having my dad (Marc) coach me was a pretty good training situation."

    Now entering the end of his high school career, Burns doesn't just want to break records and win titles; he wants people to know he's one of the nation's top runners -- that motivates him.

    "I just want to be the best," Burns said. "I want to show everybody that I'm the best. You just want to push yourself to get the best out of yourself."

    In the fall, Burns will head to Oregon to run under the legendary Jerry Schumacher, one of the country's top distance running coaches, along with newly-hired Chris Solinsky and Shalane Flanagan. Solinsky joined Oregon in January after five years as an assistant at Florida.

    The Ducks are one of the NCAA's preeminent clubs, having won five indoor, seven outdoor and six cross-country national championships on the men's side. Burns will also benefit from world-class training facilities and a staff of professional trainers.

    "Going to Oregon, it's a great program," Burns said. "There's already a great culture, and it's just gonna be a really fun time there. Hopefully, [I'll] make an impact right away."

    Before committing to Oregon, Burns took five officials, none of which were to Oregon.

    Only when he visited Eugene did he know he wanted to be a Duck. But it wasn't just the campus ethos that sold Burns on Oregon; the Missouri native also wanted to train with and race against the best runners in the United States.

    "The guys [Coach Schumacher] brought in this year and is going to bring in next year, it's gonna be a really deadly team in a few years," Burns said. "So that kind of sold me on the vision in a few years, and this team is gonna be insane."

    Joining Burns, ranked the fourth-best runner in MileSplit's recruiting rankings, is Simeon Birnbaum from South Dakota. Birnbaum, like Burns, ran a sub-four-minute mile at the Brooks PR Invitational in June. Burns said he was also tempted by the opportunity to work with Schumacher.

    "You have all those resources and everything there," Burns said. "And then Coach Schumacher and an incredible running group, it's really hard to pass up."

    Burns learned long ago that success is a combination of mental and physical strength and care.

    On the physical side, he pushes himself in workouts to achieve his goals before going through a comprehensive cool-down routine that includes stretching, rolling, massage therapy and regular ice baths. From a mental standpoint, Burns' philosophy is to put his head down and work daily to establish consistent training habits.

    Breaking records is just one piece of the puzzle.

    To complete the jigsaw, he says he wants to set benchmarks that will last long after he's left; what drives this preternaturally speedy runner forward is creating a legacy.

    Racing at Oregon is the natural next step in a young but already prolific career.

    Still, one of Burns' simplest motivators is the thrill of seeing how far he can push himself to win -- the feeling of crossing the finish line before his competitors.

    "I push myself in workouts, and at the end of the day, racing is what motivates everyone," Burns said. "Putting those times and getting wins, just kind of bringing out the best of myself and pushing to see what I can do."


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