Recently named to Athletics Canada’s team for the World Cross Country Championships, Ben Preisner joins me on the blog this week.
I ran against Ben in high school track and cross country. Actually, I stand corrected, I ran in the same race as Ben, but he was so far ahead of anyone else, no one really ran against him. Ben was gracious and humble on every start line, while the rest of us just stared at him in disbelief. On one occasion, a runner attempted to go out with Ben and after a lap or two, pulled off to the side of the track and began walking. But I digress…
In his last year of high school, 2013-2014, Ben finished 4th in OFSAA XC, 3rd in the OFSAA 3000m (behind Justyn Knight), and 1st in the 2000m Steeplechase.
After high school Ben was accepted to Tulsa University (in Oklahoma for those who aren’t strong in geography) where he is currently in his 5th, and final, year of NCAA eligibility.
Ben’s personal bests are:
At his last race, Ben’s ran against Canadian marathoner Reid Coolsaet, Olympic Steeplechaser Matt Hughes, Mike Tate, Tristan Woodfine and many more top athletes. You can read the race recap for the Boxing Day 10 Miler here. You can also follow him on Strava at Ben Preisner.
It was a pleasure to interview Ben, for the blog, and was great catching up. You can check out the 8 Questions below.
As a kid, if I recall, you played competitive hockey and ran competitively. Why did you originally begin to run and why did you choose running over hockey?
Yes, I played rep hockey for Milton from grade 2 through grade 11. I loved playing hockey, and my life definitely revolved around the sport for a very long time. It just eventually got to the point where in high school if you weren’t moving up into the better leagues (OHL, Jr. A), then there wasn’t really anywhere to go with the sport. At the same time, I started running in grade 9 and was having some pretty good success. [Author note: pretty good success is the understatement of the year, Ben won our region in Cross Country.] I joined Speed River TFC in grade 9 and my coach Jeff Haller gave me a really good foundation, which made me fall in love with the grind and pursuing success in the sport. So, in the end, I guess it just came down to a good introduction into the sport of running and a dwindling career in hockey.
Can you walk me through your experience at the Canadian Cross Country Championships and your feeling when you were selected to the team for worlds?
I had a great time at ACXC. I hadn’t run the National Cross Country Championships since my first year of university (2014) and I was excited to compete at the national level in Canada again. ACXC usually coincides well with American Thanksgiving, so I got the full week off classes before the race. My girlfriend coincidently lives in Kingston, so I was able to go down early in the week and run the course a few times.
The race itself went pretty well. I think it’s a natural tendency of all runners to look back on a race and think about different ways you should have executed certain aspects, but part of growing up in the sport is just realizing that you can’t change anything after the race is over. So, all in all I was definitely happy with my effort, but not completely satisfied. There were definitely a few anxious days between the race and when I got the email from Athletics Canada, because I knew there were four guys that could take the at-large spots but it all worked out in the end.
Do you have a specific goal for World XC?
It’s hard to set a specific goal going into a championship like World XC. If I was going to put a quantitative personal goal out there it would be to make a meaningful impact for Team Canada. That being said, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if I was the 6th man on the day simply because all the other guys had a great race, or it could be a not so great thing if I have a sub-par day and I am still in a scoring position on the team. All in all, I just want to get in the race, not be afraid of the people I am running against and help Team Canada achieve the decided upon team goals.
“It’s a natural tendency of all runners to look back on a race and think about different ways you should have executed certain aspects, but part of growing up in the sport is just realizing that you can’t change anything after the race is over.”
What are you doing to prepare? Will you have an indoor season?
Training will not be affected too much for me. I am training for the 10k for the outdoor NCAA track season, so regardless I will be putting in a solid base of training early in the year. I will have a minimal indoor track season, probably 3-4 races. I think the indoor track races can help with sharpness going into the NACAC championship and then Worlds a few weeks after that.
[Author note: Athletics Canada requires Canadian Athletes who compete at Worlds to compete at NACAC prior to the big championship]
As a talented high school runner, I am sure you had many offers. Why did you choose Tulsa. How would you categorize your experience after five years?
My main way of deciding where I wanted to attend university was a lengthy pros/cons list of my potential options. I think it would have been foolish for me to only look at NCAA schools or vice versa, so I applied to a few Canadian schools while also talking to a few American schools. The factors I placed emphasis on were: academics (wanted a strong engineering school), running (good program, got along with coaches and athletes), student life, and proximity to home (did not want to be too close to home – sorry Mom). In the end, Tulsa had everything I was looking for.
I could not be happier with my choice. I am graduating with a respected degree in chemical engineering and have really enjoyed my time on the team here. The coaches here have been nothing but supportive and I hope I have proven my worth over the years. I have one more semester to give it my all here and help the team as much as possible.
Would you rather race on the track, roads, or cross country?
I love training for cross country, but I am a fan of running track races. Especially running in the NCAA, cross country races can get overwhelming real quick with the amount of depth. This is why I tend to prefer the smaller fields of talented athletes, so I can maintain composure and execute proper race tactics throughout the race. In terms of 2019 I am looking forward to World XC, and then my main goal is to qualify for the NCAA 10k outdoors.
By the end of the spring, you will have graduated from college. Outside of World XC, what are your priorities for 2019?
After I graduate I honestly don’t know what I will do in terms of running, I guess I’m still looking at my options. The priority would be finding a job, preferably in the field of chemical engineering.
I assume your goal in the next two years is to qualify for Tokyo 2020. Is that in the back of your mind? What distance will you be aiming at to qualify?
Making the Olympics would be amazing, and if the opportunity presents itself I obviously wouldn’t be opposed to it. In terms of distance, typically the longer the better for me so who knows, maybe the marathon would be my best option. As I said in the previous question, I love running but I also don’t want to put my actual career on the side burner. I think my last semester at Tulsa will answer a lot of questions, particularly what I want to do with running.
Thanks again to Ben for joining me!
As always, follow me on Twitter @AndersenRuns!