Sarah Burnell ’14 ran for Grinnell High School and now runs as a Pioneer. She was named the Midwest Conference Women’s Cross Country Performer of the Week for the second time this year after posting the second best time in school history for a 6-Kilometer race, finishing in a time of 22:01 at Wartburg College on Saturday, October 6.
What was going through your mind as you were about to set the second fastest record in school history?
At the beginning of the race, I was with the front of the pack. I was pretty excited, especially when we went past the two-mile mark. I thought ‘Okay, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m running pretty fast. This is great!’ Around the three-mile mark I was getting tired, but I was still pretty excited because I was in the top group. Wartburg has a really long finish—I caught two girls that were in front of me. Then, running across the finish line and seeing the clock tick as I crossed the finish line and seeing that I had made it just at 22 minutes or so. I was so excited. My whole family came to watch at the Wartburg meet. It was just fantastic to have them there and to see me run so well. It was great.
What was the first reaction once you’d finished—I need water? Leave me alone?
The first thing after was ‘I need to breathe.’ After that, I was in shock for a little bit, I kept looking down at my watch and thinking ‘Did I really run that fast?’
Is there something in the water in Grinnell? Why do so many runners from Grinnell end up going to school here?
I have no idea. We were a pretty close team in high school, especially the people I ran with. We had a pretty small boys and girls team. Some of the older guys came to Grinnell and ran. Our coach in high school used a lot of the same workouts that Will [Freeman] uses. So we were already comfortable with those things. Grinnell just seems to be a good fit for a number of us, and we just like to run.
What’s your specialization in Anthropology?
The subfield I’ve been most involved in is the biological anthropology side. I look at evolution and monkeys.
Did you know about the kinds of parties that happened on campus in high school? Or was it a more jarring experience once you got to campus officially?
In high school, I didn’t really know about the parties that went on on campus. Maybe I was being naïve. I didn’t really know about Harris parties and stuff. When I prospied, I was a little bit shocked, because I went out with some Cross Country girls to Harris and stuff. I kind of knew about 10/10. I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was on campus. But I had heard about that party, at least.
What’s your favorite Harris party?
I’d have to say Fetish. I always think it’s absolutely crazy.
If you could create your own Harris party, what would it be?
I don’t even know. I love dancing, I love music. So any Harris party really. I’d like something jungle-themed. That would be fun.
What would you do if they tore down the $lum?
Oh, that would be really sad. I’d be so sad. We’d probably just find another house and demolish it. We’d find another place to destroy and call home.
If you could participate in any other sport on campus, what would it be?
I’d do swimming, if I could figure out how to breath and swim at the same time. I think they’re just crazy and amazing. I’d totally want to be part of their team.
Which is harder: track or cross-country?
I would say that the workouts in cross-country are harder, but the races in track are harder.
Are you running or doing shot put?
I do middle distance things. The 4X400, the 800-meter, and the mile. It’s kinda like long sprinting, which is hard.
Have you ever run a marathon?
I’ve done a few half-marathons, and a few 20Ks. No marathons. Maybe someday in the future.
If you had to pick a marathon to run—one of the big city ones—which one would you do?
I’d totally do Boston. It’s so built up. You have to have a qualifying time and everything. It’d be so cool. I’m into that.
Are you studying abroad?
I’m going to go to Istanbul, Turkey. I’m going to explore some ruins, take some art history classes, and hopefully learn Turkish.
Are you trying to replicate Indiana Jones?
Pretty much. I’d like to go on a lot of crazy adventures, and eat a lot of good food.
What appealed to you about Istanbul?
I wanted to go somewhere where that I probably wouldn’t pick as a destination later on in life. Europe was kind of like, ‘oh, I might want to visit someday.’ Turkey or Greece, I didn’t know if I’d ever make it back so I wanted to take my time and spend it wisely. Mediterranean food sounds delicious.
If you were trapped on a desert island what are the three things you’d want to bring with you?
The first thing would be Nutella. I love that stuff! The second one would be the book Born To Run because I still haven’t read it yet. It’s been on my list of books to read forever. Number three would be a hammock. If I’m going to be on an island, I want to chill.
Do you think there should be an alternative version of Stupid Week called Nerdy Week?
What would the events be—getting extra sleep? Eating really healthy food? I don’t know if it would be as much fun. Being stupid at the end of the season is kind of fun. Maybe we should do that at the start of conference week. That way everyone’s ready to race well.
What would be two other Nerdy Week events?
Getting all your homework done on time and ice baths.