Mac Staryk and Wyatt Sullivan left Jackson Hole on Thursday and got back Sunday with tired legs and bodies from the travel and from the competition they faced in New York City.
There wasn’t much time for sightseeing while they were back East. Staryk had the two-mile to race Friday, and he and Sullivan took the starting line Saturday for the emerging elite mile. They were at the New Balance Nationals Indoor meet, which hosts the top athletes from across the country at the Armory Track.
Staryk finished ninth in the two-mile in 9 minutes, 29.85 seconds, on par with his performances in the slightly shorter 3,000-meter races he has competed in this winter.
In the mile race Saturday he went 4:26.51 and Sullivan went 4:27.86 for 26th and 27th place.
“The last 300 meters everyone else used that speed training they’ve gotten throughout the winter,” Sullivan said. “I wasn’t able to find the jets. … It was a great experience, very humbling.”
With indoor track races still mostly new for Jackson Hole athletes, the competition in New York City presented challenges that Sullivan and Staryk could have expected. Though they have trained mostly with mileage-based runs on icy roads all winter, many of their competitors have had the luxury of higher temperatures and indoor facilities for quicker workouts.
For instance, the winner of the mile, hitting the tape in 4:15.66, was from Virginia. The two-mile was won in 9:16.8 by a Californian.
“I think everyone had a lot more speed in their legs than Sully and I had,” Staryk said.
The two said the travel might have caused some lethargy. Staryk said he didn’t feel well before either race, but, considering his condition, he was satisfied with how he did.
“The fact I was able to run the two-mile and the mile a day after while not feeling great, and the times I did run — I was pretty happy with that,” Staryk said. “We both have strength to have a really good outdoor season.”
And, really, the outdoor season is where he and Sullivan hope to leave their mark.
“They definitely know the work they’ve put in, and the priority and whole training process has been targeting May and June races,” distance coach Matt Chorney said. “But you kind of forget that stuff when the gun goes off; you want to beat every person.”
The size and chaos of the meet were a bit overwhelming, too, Staryk and Sullivan admitted. Though both plan to run at big meets with competitors across the country this spring, the indoor nationals presented the largest meet they’ve competed at to this point.
“The audio, the crowd was pretty large,” Staryk said. “There were so many amazing athletes. It was for sure a little nerve-racking.”
“It’s just a very humbling experience,” Sullivan said. “They weren’t just distance runners. There were elite throwers, sprinters, jumpers. It was really cool to see but really intimidating. Two Wyoming boys in the mix of a bunch of really driven athletes from all over that have been putting in miles.”
The experience of such a big, high-stakes meet at this point in the year could bode well for them heading into outdoor season. They plan to race an elite early-season two-mile to get a quick time recorded, then take a break before ramping up for the postseason.
“I’m trying to look at it as a learning experience,” Sullivan said. “I’m fully ready [for outdoor], I’m more ready than ever. We’re going to take base miles into outdoor track that we’ve never done before.”