To successfully meet the unique challenges of the 800-meter run, athletes must be willing to push themselves to the absolute limits of their physical abilities.
“It’s definitely not easy,” said Alex Duncan, of Batavia. “It’s definitely not a pleasant thing to be doing. It’s very painful, but very rewarding when you finish it.”
Duncan competed in the event in high school at Aurora Central Catholic and now as a freshman at Aurora University.
“It’s considered a distance event,” he notes. “You can’t just sprint it.”
But Duncan said the last half of the race “turns out to be an all-out sprint. If you’re not sprinting from 400 [meters] out, you’re not going to be competitive.”
So far early in his collegiate career, Duncan has been very competitive in the 800. He finished eighth in a field of 43 runners at the Chicagoland Indoor Championships earlier this month with a school-record time of 1:58.51. His time and placing are more impressive considering he did not run in the top heat.
Duncan also helped the Spartans finish seventh in the 19-team field in the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 3:28.44, also a school record. His performance at the meet earned him honors as the Northern Athletics Conference student-athlete of the week for men’s track.
“It was kind of a surprise to get that, especially because I felt like I didn’t deserve it,” Duncan said. “I think I could do so much better.”
Still, for early in the season, he thought his 800 result was pretty good.
“It’s only a second off my personal best,” he says. “I’m getting into shape fast.”
Duncan said he’s looking forward to outdoor season when he will run on “a better track with more competition.”
Last fall, Duncan wasn’t sure he would be taking part in track at all, let alone at Aurora.
“It kind of fell into my lap,” he says. “I was originally supposed to go the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, but that didn’t work out.”
He spent a semester at Waubonsee Community College before a conversation with Aurora track coach Ryan Chapman convinced him to become a Spartan.
“That seemed to be the best option for me, to be an athlete and keep trying to improve myself,” Duncan says. “It’s been a quick adjustment. It’s a great campus and a good group of kids.”
Duncan isn’t sure what field of study he wants to pursue. He enjoys science and is considering biology as a possible major.
“It’s very difficult to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life,” he said.
Deciding what to do in his spare time is easier.
“I enjoy video games like every young adult,” Duncan said.
He also enjoys taking care of his two dogs, a 5-year-old pug and an 8-year-old golden retriever.
“They’re a handful,” he said.
Given the fast start to his collegiate track career, the same could be said of Duncan for years to come.
• Dennis D. Jacobs writes the weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To suggest local athletes deserving of recognition for their collegiate accomplishments, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.