Coming off of an injury this winter, redshirt sophomore distance runner Dan Schaffer shocked himself when he broke the 5,000-meter school record by 8.86 seconds at the Bucknell Outdoor Invitational on April 14.
“I’m very happy with the time [that] weekend,” Schaffer said. “I wasn’t expecting to run a race that fast.”
Schaffer broke the record time of 14:20.61 set by Ethan Hausamann, ‘17, with his 14:11.75 finish. Despite starting out in the back of the pack, Schaffer was able to work his way up to fifth place out of 81 competitors, running his last lap in 62 seconds. He describes his running style as silent, as he focuses heavily on keeping pace.
“I was mainly thinking about keeping my cadence and my stride rate,” Schaffer said. “There were a few moments during the race where I really started to get fatigued. It started to get painful, but I just focused on keeping my legs moving.”
But Schaffer wants to push himself further — his main goal is to run a regional-qualifying time in the 5,000. The top 48 runners in the eastern half will advance to the meet, and his time is currently ranked at 45.
“I’ll have a couple more opportunities to run the 5K, and hopefully I can shave a few more seconds off and solidify that position,” Schaffer said.
Schaffer’s performance at Bucknell earned him the America East Men’s Track Athlete of the Week award on April 17. This is the second time this year that he has earned the accolade.
Before Schaffer was a record-breaking distance runner, he was a soccer player. He began playing soccer when he was three years old and said he always saw himself as a soccer player until his freshman year on varsity track.
“The guys who ran track on the cross country team convinced me to switch to cross country [from soccer] that fall,” Schaffer said. “It’s been history ever since then.”
Schaffer stills keeps in contact with his high school teammates from nearby Maine-Endwell, as they run their mileage together over the summer.
“[Running together] is a big help,” Schaffer said. “The more people we have running together, the more we can push each other.”
Before Schaffer gets ready for summer training, however, he will be preparing for the rest of the season, in the hopes of breaking 14 minutes in the 5,000.
“I’m very optimistic for the rest of the season and excited to see what I can do once I get a few more weeks of training under me,” he said.