Dear Running: What The Pursuit Of Greatness Has Taught Me

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Berkley Nance is a high school senior from Henrico, Virginia. The Brigham Young University signee is coming off a cross country season where he was fourth overall at Foot Locker Nationals and qualified for the World U20 XC Championships by finishing sixth overall at nationals. He's a two-time Virginia state cross country champion and owns PRs of 4:17.60 in the mile and 9:07.00 for two miles.

Dear Running,

In the pursuit of greatness, running has been my most formidable teacher. Running has taught me that greatness requires a relentless pursuit of excellence, the courage to shatter boundaries of comfort and the unwavering conviction to resist complacency. Winning or breaking records never comes easy, but it happens in due time. Triumph wouldn't have that feeling without shadows of defeat and adversity.

Beyond being merely a sport, running is a constant source of challenge, growth and solace. In my workouts every day I endure pain and grow to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. It reminds me that if winning was easy, then everyone would do it.

I am constantly in awe of running's ability to humble any athlete at any time. It doesn't matter what one has done or hasn't done, there will be setbacks that try to bring you down. I have found that for me, injuries are the greatest culprit of this. I have dealt with this many times throughout the seasons. Thankfully, I am always able to come back and regain myself. I thank God for giving me strength, especially in those trying times. Each injury feels like a dagger to the heart, but in the rising, I am able to learn new things to help in the future.

In my junior track season, arguably the most important season for recruiting, I faced IT Band Syndrome, which cost me six weeks of training right at the start of the outdoor season. This was the worst injury I have faced, the timing was horrible and the injury dragged on throughout the season. The first few races back were heart-wrenching, because I knew I could run faster -- but I knew I needed more time and training. It was a testament to my refusal to succumb to fate and my love for the sport. By the end of the season, I was able to win another state championship in the 3,200m, but the times I had run were not up to my expectations and for the standards of the colleges I wanted to run at. 

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I thank running for enabling me to grow closer to God, through the lows and the highs. It has truly shaped my life in ways I could not have predicted.

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The trials of a subpar track season laid a foundation for the triumphs soon to unfold. I had to perform exceptionally in my senior year cross country season to be able to run at my desired college. The pressure was on and I knew what I had to do. Fortunately, I love to be under pressure ... so I thrived. I ran great races from the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic in September to Foot Locker Nationals in December. I ended up finishing fourth at Foot Locker Nationals and then moved up to the 8K to place sixth at USATF U20 Cross Country National Championships in January to qualify for the World U20 Championships in Serbia at the end of March.

The saying that 'diamonds are made under pressure' never rang more true for me than after this season.

Each time I lace up my shoes, I strive to be grateful for good health and the opportunity to do what I love. Running has taught me to have a profound sense of gratitude in the little things, because it all can be taken away so fast.

I thank running for giving me lifelong friends in the past, present and future, many of which I could not have been here without. I thank running for giving me amazing opportunities, including competing across the country and the world, doing what I love at the college of my dreams and gaining a new perspective on things. I thank running for enabling me to grow closer to God, through the lows and the highs. It has truly shaped my life in ways I could not have predicted.

As I reflect on my running journey, those heart-warming and heart-aching memories flood back. The journey has been beautiful, but it also has been far from smooth. For me, it hasn't been easy, but I am proud of the perseverance I've shown. 

Many more challenges lie ahead, but I have the confidence to overcome them and surpass my high expectations.

In pursuit of chasing greatness, day by day. I may not be there yet, but closer than the day before.

Berkley Nance

Mills Godwin High School 

Class of 2024





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, or to your local MileSplit editor in your respective state.