By James Evans
At the Robert J. Kane Invitational on Feb. 12 sophomore runner Patrick Ludlow broke DeSales’ seven-year-old, 800-meter record.
The former record holder, Paul Ecker, ran a 1:57.96 in 2010, which Ludlow was able to best by .24 seconds in his historic race.
The 800 meter race is one of the most interesting track events. Converging at a natural midpoint between distance runners and sprinters, the race can feature anywhere from smaller, elfin runners to burly football players. This creates a naturally fascinating contrast between the individuals on the line.
When asked about being in the latter, bigger group, Ludlow recalls his high school coach analyzing his body type, relative to his track events.
“It was always funny to hear him say that all those skinny types were better 800 runners. Which was great because I never wanted to run the event. My freshman year, I did the 200 and the 400, maybe. Then my sophomore year, he made me run the 800, and I stupidly ran well,” said Ludlow.
What is most interesting about Ludlow, was the genuine humility of an athlete who has reached such prolific heights.If one were to meet Ludlow, and had to guess what sport he played, track and field may not be their first guess. Built more like an outside linebacker than a runner, Ludlow resembles the kind of stocky, All-American farm boy that American writer John Steinbeck would have imagined.
Tall, muscular, and with hardened calluses on his hands (that men’s coach Alan Weiner often gushes about), Ludlow has the total make-up of a phenomenal athlete. However, what might be most fascinating about Ludlow, is that he is probably embarrassed by his description in this paragraph.
During the interview, there was not a single mention of his achievements, his legacy or his record. When asked about his record setting time, Ludlow laughed nervously and asked to change the subject.
One anecdote that truly personifies Ludlow, is sophomore teammate Kyle McCann saying that after Ludlow broke the 800 meter record, he refused to call Ecker and tell him his time had been bested (as is tradition on DeSales’ men’s track and field team).
“I think he didn’t want to make him feel bad,” said McCann.
When setting up the interview, Ludlow jokingly quipped that I “…should have more hard-hitting issues to write about [than him].”
Twice, once before the interview and once during, he asked if I could include a small section or reference in the piece, about two of his teammates, so as to lighten the focus on him.
Runners are famously neurotic athletes, as there is only a certain type of person that enjoys putting their body on the line week after week. To cope with the inevitable moment in a race where one’s body is screaming with every fiber to quit, many athletes turn to an outlet to push onward. For Ludlow, it’s both the man in front of him and the man above.
“While I always want to catch the guy ahead of me, I’m very competitive, I still set aside time before every race to pray and say to God ‘Help me dedicate this race to you,’ and I try to run with that in mind. God gave us all talents and abilities and when you use them well, it is a way to live for God. I have been blessed with a very special talent and I think that if I work hard and use that ability, and I do it for God, then I am using my talents well.”