Durant, Burchfield going distance

Campus Times
May 14, 1999

photo by Michelle Zimmerman

Senior psychology major Ryan Burchfield stretches before beginning his vigorous work out, which includes weight and endurance training. Burchfield's hard work paid off last month when he ran and completed the Big Sur International Marathon, in which he did well enough to enable him to participate in the upcoming Boston Marathon.

by Heather Baxter
Staff Writer

Testing both their physical and mental limits, University of La Verne seniors Matt Durant and Ryan Burchfield have begun new hobbies, running triathlons and marathons, respectively.

"[When you watch a race] you see a bunch of skinny guys running ... people look at you like, 'Why are you going to do that?' It's hard to explain," said Durant. "It's just something that burns inside you."

Participating in triathlons is new for ULV's intramural coordinator. The strenuous swim, bike and run that is required to complete a triathlon is something that Durant has only recently begun performing.

An athlete who participated in football and track in his earlier years at La Verne, Durant credits his interest in triathlon participation to a past training partner.

"I trained with a guy who trained with triathletes. It affected me," he said.

Claiming that he began training for triathlons as a result of inactivity between sports seasons, Durant said, "I had nothing to do. I got out of shape so I just decided to try it." He also said that it quickly became a fire in his blood.

"[Competing] is absolutely a personal achievement. This is something that is on me to do. [Unlike team sports], I can't rely on anyone but me," he said.

Rising at 5:30 nearly every weekend morning, Durant gets his training in by biking, on average 30 to 40 miles, or running. He also encompasses some swimming, in order to train for all aspects of the race.

He warns prospective competitors to take care of themselves though.

"Don't do all three in one day. You'll tear your body down," he said.

He also advises that trainees watch how hard they train and take care of their bodies.

"I lost fifteen pounds during training alone," he said.

Durant competed in his first triathlon ever in April when he entered the Bonelli Park Series, where he finished with a time of 1:00:02.

As the Bonelli Park Series was, in Durant's words, a sprint triathlon (which means that the distances are shorter, so the times are a lot smaller than in an average triathlon), Durant is still looking forward to participating in his first "real" triathlon. He is planning on competing in three separate competitions this summer, averaging to about one a month.

A San Luis Obispo native, Durant is a communications major and works as a football coach at the College of the Canyons in Valencia. With no immediate plans to employ his forthcoming communications degree, Durant hopes to substitute teach in the fall, while continuing his work as a football coach.

Durant believes that participating in something like a triathlon is worthwhile but has advise that a person should ask himself some important questions before beginning.

"Do you really, really want to do this, because if you don't, you are wasting your time," said Durant. "Once you can get past that mental roadblock, you'll be fine."

Competing in something that requires as much, if not more, mental and physical toughness is Burchfield, who has only recently taken on the role of a marathon runner.

On April 25, Burchfield ran the Big Sur International Marathon and finished the 26.2 mile course with a time of 3:11:49, which qualifies him to participate in the Boston Marathon next year.

Crediting his interest in marathon running to his father, who is himself a runner, Burchfield began training for the race only about two months beforehand.

If the short time before the race was not pressure enough for Burchfield, he was under the extra burden of training without a coach.

"It was up to me to push myself," he said.

Durant expressed his support of Burchfield's efforts by saying, "Ryan did it without anyone training him. He was in phenomenal shape. He was absolutely inspiring to me."

Having played basketball through high school and college, Burchfield actually had very little background in long distance running before this year.

"I wanted to stay competitive [after basketball season], so I started running," said Burchfield.

Above all else, Burchfield's goal is to "win a marathon." And, although he was not completely impressed with his first marathon performance, he shrugs it off, saying, "You've got to start somewhere."

Hoping to do nothing more than knock off about 10 to 15 minutes from his total time, Burchfield plans on competing in the Portland Marathon in October, before he runs the Boston Marathon.

Hailing from Danville, Calif., just outside of San Francisco, Burchfield is a psychology major who will be graduating in May.

Also holding no plans to implement his degree in the immediate future, Burchfield is looking forward to beginning a real estate job after graduation.

"I don't want to end up sitting behind a desk," he explained. "But, I would be interested in working in sports psychology, or business psych."

Burchfield encourages anyone to try marathon running.

"It can be pretty painful, but if you want it, it is an attainable goal," he said. "You have to want it completely for yourself. But, there is no greater feeling than when you cross the finish line."

photo by Summer Herndon

Senior communications major Matt Durant completed the Bonelli Park Series Triathlon in 1:00:02 last April. Durant has participated on the football and track teams while attending the University of La Verne and wants to start a career in teaching and coaching after graduation.