Racing at a major championship is nothing new for North Central alum Johnny Crain (14’). The 10 time DIII All-American competed at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., last July checking off another goal off of his list.
The Dunlap, Ill., native did not always have his sights on the trials. “I saw it as a distant goal, something that I would always like to do, but thought I would never actually get the chance to do it. It’s hard to explain, just because I never saw it as a real possibility,” said Crain.
When Crain ran a 63:21 for the half marathon last year, he saw one of his dreams becoming a reality. This performance got him into the marathon trials where he finished 53rd.
The surprising part of Crain’s experience might be his timeline leading into the track and field trials; where he would compete in the 10,000 meters. He only found out 48 hours before the trials that he would be racing, after he had already accepted that he would not be going. Eleven hours after getting a call from the USA Track and Field Association, Crain was on a plane heading to Eugene.
A unique aspect of Crain’s journey is his perspective. At a major platform like the olympic trials there comes a fair share of pros coming from DI schools. Most of the men and women at the trials have competed against each other before, giving them a slight advantage on the competition. Crain tells that even though that is the case, he finds his people, “us DIII guys stick together, It’s a bond we have.”
The level of care and treatment is much different for these athletes then it has been for Crain. Plenty of the athletes at the trials have had the top equipment and have had training be their full time job post-college.
He explains that the best part of his experience was right before the race during the introductions.
“I just took a second to think about how far I had come while I was lining up against people I had looked up to as athletes for years, and the best athletes within our sport. Not too often does track and field draw 20,000+ fans for a 10K, and a national TV audience,” said Crain.
After finishing 16th at the track and field trials, Crain has set bigger goals for himself. His goal is to be in the top 10 at the trials, to be in the mix as someone to look out for. Crain tells that he has never been one to “settle” and is always pushing himself farther.
Just recently, Crain joined ZAP Fitness and is now getting the level of care these athletes have been getting most of their track and field careers. Crain calls himself a “blue-collar” athlete compared to a lot of the athletes at the trials.
“I don’t take any of what I receive now for granted. I know what it’s like to work without all that stuff(and even without a coach). It’s nice to have, but I don’t need this stuff…it may not be true, but, I like to tell myself that to keep a chip on my shoulder,” said Crain.