By DAVID BORAKS
Runner Anthony Famiglietti has his sights set on making his third U.S. Olympic team this June. As he chases that goal, he’s also reaching out to his adopted community of Davidson, both for support and to share his philosophy.
On Monday, “Fam,” as he is affectionately known, was at Davidson Elementary School, where he answered questions from second graders. They wanted to know what he eats, how many miles a day he runs, and this one: “What does it feel like to run?”
“It’s a great feeling,” he told students of teachers Dana Higgins and Tina Brock. But, he added, “It hurts.”
Mr. Famiglietti, a 33-year-old New York native who moved to Davidson last year, has been running about 10 miles a day. You may have seen him on local streets or greenways, or speeding around the Davidson College track.
“The good thing about living in Davidson is the (town) really cares about pedestrians and bikes getting around,” he said Monday.
He told the students he no longer eats junk food, focusing instead on fruits and vegetables. And, he joked, he has even reluctantly added broccoli to his diet.
As he trains, Fam also has been competing in occasional weekend track meets and road races as he points toward the late June Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
A couple of weekends ago, he ran his first 3,000-meter steeplechase in two years in a meet at Appalachian State University in Boone. His time of 8:46 easily beat the field and he said it also was a good start to his racing season.
He also won the March 17 Leprechaun Loop 8K in Davidson, crossing the line about four minutes ahead of his next closest competitor.
AT HOME WITH THE STEEPLECHASE
Mr. Famiglietti has some of the fastest times in the nation in races ranging from 1,500 (3:35.83) to 10,000 meters (27:37.74). Most of us are doing well if we run a 5K in the time it takes him to run twice that distance.
But his specialty is the 3,000-meter steeplechase, an event that took him to the summer Olympics in both Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. It’s a 1.7-mile run around a track that is dotted with five 36-inch-high wooden hurdles. The fifth of the five barriers is a water jump, standing at the edge of a 12-foot-long water pit.
Mr. Famiglietti first tried steeplechase while at Appalachian State, and fell in love. It required a mix of middle-distance running speed and determination to master the barriers. He ended up becoming so proficient at the race that he finished second in the 2004 U.S. Olympic trials and won the 2008 trials.
In Athens, he finished 8th in the preliminary round, after hitting a hurdle. In Beijing, he was 13th in a personal best 8:17.
In a couple of months, he’ll be shooting for his third Olympic team.
But he’s not just training for himself. He told DavidsonNews.net he’s also trying to promote interest in his sport. (He has more work to do: One 2nd grader on Monday wasn’t interested in Fam’s sleek yellow running shoes or his stories about big races. He wanted to know: “Is there golf in the Olympics?” “Not yet,” Fam replied.)
Mr. Famiglietti also wants to kids to get the same lessons he learned as a young runner. He told the students at Davidson Elementary he once hated school, but running helped him “channel the negative energy” and get his life back on track.
“When you learn to be a runner, and you learn to be a good runner, you build character,” he said. In his case, he turned around his status as a “C” student through the sport. “I was shy, quiet, afraid to raise my hand. When I started winning races, I started getting good grades,” he said.
This Saturday at 4 p.m., Mr. Famiglietti will be running a steeplechase at UNC Charlotte’s Charlotte Invitational, and he’s hoping to draw a crowd. He asked the kids to come out and cheer.
“I’d really like you to come, because the louder you yell, the faster I’ll run,” he said.
WANT TO HELP? LEARN MORE?
Anthony Famiglietti is doing something different as he gets ready for the Olympic Trials. He doesn’t have a big-name sponsor like many other athletes. Instead, he’s self-sponsored, raising money through sales of his own “Reckless Running” athletic gear and by soliciting money from local businesses and individuals.
For the next couple of weeks, he’s also running a contest on his website: For a donation of $50, a local businesses can enter a drawing to have their names on the singlet he’ll wear in races this spring. You can enter on the Go Fam 2012 page on his website, www.runfam.com/gofam2012
Find more about Mr. Famiglietti’s background and career, including his best times, and watch race and training videos at RunFam.com