Catching up with Darren Brown
March 30, 2009
Former Longhorn All-American Darren Brown has fond memories of the Texas Relays, both as a high school competitor and a collegiate, but now he'll be back to run in the event as a professional.
Brown first started his Relays career while competing for Klein High School in Spring, Texas. Accompanied by fellow Longhorns Erik Stanley and Tomas Finol, Brown was a part of two Relays records in the 4x800 meters and the distance medley relay.
Then, as a collegiate at last year's event, Brown posted a 3:59.99 in the Jerry Thompson Mile to join his father, Barry, in becoming the first American father-son duo to break the four-minute mark.
This year, Brown will be back in the Jerry Thompson Mile. The Texas Relays staff was able to catch up with Brown one day after he won the 32nd annual Cap 10K in Austin.
On what he's been doing since leaving The University of Texas: I moved away for sixth months and was training with Jason Vigilante (former Texas assistant coach who is now the head coach at Virginia), but I really missed Austin, missed Texas, missed this atmosphere, missed my training partners Jacob and Leo and those guys. I went back to Florida for about six weeks over the holidays to visit family and do some warm-weather training. I came back to Austin and realized that this is where I found my groove. I was comfortable being back here. I knew people back here. I was in this training group, so I talked to coach Thornton and coach Hayes and asked if they would mind if I came back. Luckily, they welcomed me back with open arms.
Now, I have the opportunity to run with coach Hayes, who has obviously done fantastic things in my event. So, I came back and I'm living the dream basically. I can't complain about anything. I get to train as much as I want and I was able to get a part-time job in the student academic services working as an athlete mentor, which is awesome.
On being part of the Austin road-racing scene: I've been enjoying the Austin road-racing scene for a couple of months, just building some strength and getting my name out there. I've got two wins under my belt in the first two races of the year. They were both 10Ks. The first one was the "Get Your Rear in Gear 10K" down in New Braunfels about three weeks ago and I ran it with Joe Thorne (former Longhorn). We ran it as a workout, as a threshold run, and I ran 30:19 to win. Joe came in second. We really just made it a good workout morning for us, but it was a fun way to do our workout, kind of change things up. Then, I won the Cap 10 on Sunday, which was a lot of fun. That's a huge race in this area so I wanted to be a part of it. I went out and did the same thing, kind of did a threshold run, never put myself in position where I was hurting or breathing hard. I built it in as part of my workout schedule, as a part of my strength building routine. It's been great on a two-fold level. It's been great from a publicity standpoint as a runner in the Austin area and it's really been benefitting my training.
On training in Austin: It's been huge. One of the reasons I moved back to Austin was the environment they have here. In Austin, the majority of the community is considered healthy and active because they go out and run. The reason they're able to do that is because the city provides us with such a great trail system, running path system with Town Lake and Shoal Creek. Another thing that is great is even though it's a city, it's a small city. Every area is accessible by foot if you're going out for a nice run. Because of that, people are used to seeing runners around and I feel safe running on the streets here at night because I feel like cars know that there could be a runner or a pedestrian or people on bikes. Being in a city like that is great because you can tell that people are supportive of that.
On competing in Europe: It was the best racing experience of my life. It was very, very eye opening. I had no clue what to bring. They called me 24 hours before my flight and all the credit card companies and phone companies had closed for the day so I couldn't change my things to international, but with help from my mom and dad, I got that taken care of. I got over to Europe and was stationed at a little training center in Leuven, Belgium, which is about 10 minutes outside of Brussels. It was a really nice area. The weather was perfect. Every night the wind stops and it becomes 60-70 degrees outside, they turns the lights on at the tracks and everyone goes racing. I was on the Belgium circuit with about 30 other athletes. There was a huge camaraderie because we worked out together, ate together, talked, so you got to meet a lot of people and it was great for networking. The atmosphere at their meets was great. Every one is like the Texas Relays. They make them all-day affairs. The morning was set aside for bantam races so the kids would race. Then, there was intermission and everyone went to these cafes that they had next to the track. After that, it was time for the big races. There was an excitement about it. The announcers were excited. In the states, you get certain races like that and the Texas Relays is obviously one of them.
On the Texas Relays: My time at the Relays started in high school when I first started running. We had a good team of guys and we came up to do the 4x8 and the DMR. We set the record in both of them two years in a row, so my love for the Texas Relays started early. It was a privilege for us to be able to come in high school because it's so competitive. The big thing at the beginning of the year was wondering if we were going to get accepted. We were lucky enough that I got to come both my junior and senior years. Then, I transferred back to Texas (from Providence) and the Texas Relays was my home meet. So, last year, with everything that surrounded it, Leo breaking the meet and stadium record and me going under four minutes, it just kind of added to my love for the meet. I still think there are big things for me to do at this meet. We're supposed to have perfect weather again this year and that is really all you can ask for. I looked at the field for the event today and two of the guys that were right there with 200 meters to go last year are back in the race this year. You've also got Jake Morse joining the field and that's going to make for an exciting race.