Not every human body is born with the capability of running 10 kilometers in 27 minutes, 18.20 seconds, like Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie just did to win an Olympic gold medal.
Some have to settle for getting things like pleasure, fitness and peace of mind in their running.
That suits Kenai Central senior Tim Kirby just fine.
Kirby, whose high school cross country career ended Saturday at regions when both he and the Kardinals did not qualify for state, officially started his love affair with running as a high school sophomore thanks to an invitation from Kardinals coach Liz Burck.
"I had Mrs. Burck for biology," Kirby said. "She just asked the class if anyone wanted to go out for cross country.
"I liked to run on my own, so I decided to do it."
Kirby ran junior varsity his sophomore year, but through some training he moved up to varsity his junior and senior years.
"He's so enthusiastic about the sport and so dedicated to the sport," Burck said. "All the kids on the team respect how hard he works.
"He's been voted captain of the team the past two years. That's a pretty good compliment. His effort and attentiveness comes from the enjoyment of what he's doing."
Kirby describes himself as a junkie when it comes to books about running and magazines like Runner's World.
Helped Kenai to a fourth-place finish Saturday at regions.
Takes part in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs for Kenai's track team.
Off the track
Earns A's and B's in the classroom.
Helped preserve Kenai River by working with Youth Restoration Corps.
Plans to attend the University of Oregon to study business.
"He contributes to the discussion on training, nutrition or different injuries," Burck said. "He'll tell us what he's heard or what he's read about."
Kirby's mother, Beverly, said Tim has always been self-disciplined and a fan of the outdoors. Those two qualities, plus his natural leadership, work together nicely in running.
For the first part of this summer before he got a job, Kirby gladly made the 10- to 15-minute drive to Tsalteshi Trails four or five times a week to get in some training. He also did some hiking on the Skyline and Fuller Lakes trails.
"We like hiking and fishing together," Beverly said. "We fished the Kenai together this summer for kings and reds. Tim got a king and some reds.
"We also went up Fuller Lakes together."
When cross country season started, Kirby decided to do extra training with teammates Jacob La Shot and Greg Landua.
"Once cross country started, we would do practice at school," Kirby said. "We felt satisfied with practice, but Jake, Greg and I would go over to Skyview later and run on our own."
La Shot finished in the top 15 at regions Saturday to become the first boys runner in Burck's four years of coaching to qualify for state.
"I probably wouldn't have had anybody to run with after practice if it weren't for him," La Shot said. "We both set goals for each other and expect to beat them.
"He's pretty much a natural leader."
Kirby said the highlight of his year came at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Meet Sept. 16 at Nikiski. He came across the finish line third on his team, which is the best finish amongst his teammates that he can remember.
In spring, Kirby does the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, with the 800 being his favorite.
"I have a (personal record) of 2:14.99," Kirby said. "This year it will be better. Much better."
Kirby's love of the outdoors led him to a job this summer working on preserving the bank of the Kenai River with the Youth Restoration Corps.
While Kirby said he loved his job, he said the downside was how intent some people seemed on undoing his work.
"Two weeks after we were done, all the fishermen were laying their stuff on it and walking all over it," Kirby said. "Some people don't care, they just don't care."
In the classroom, Kirby gets A's and B's.
"He works just as hard in the classroom as he does at cross country practice," said Burck, who taught Kirby biology.
Next year, Kirby plans on attending the University of Oregon to study business. He said he chose Oregon because he has family friends there and, of course, because that's where Steve Prefontaine went to school.
Prefontaine is one of the most famous American distance runners ever. When he died from a tragic car crash on the morning of May 30, 1975, he held every American record from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters.
"Oregon's a big track school," Kirby said. "As far as getting on the track or cross country team, that'd be pretty tough.
"I would love to run for a club team, though."
And that, according to Burck, is what is important.
"I'm sure he will continue running," Burck said. "He'll run for pleasure, to stay in shape and to get outside and meet people.
"That enjoyment is really what's important."
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