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Climbing mountains: How a New Zealander has overcome injuries to excel at North Texas

Climbing mountains: How a New Zealander has overcome injuries to excel at North Texas

Climbing mountains: How a New Zealander has overcome injuries to excel at North Texas
May 27
13:30 2021

After a spinal injury sidelined him midway though the spring semester, senior long distance runner Jack Beaumont has returned to form recently for a record-breaking season.

With a time of 8:56.40 in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the C-USA Outdoor Championships, Beaumont set a school record and advanced to the NCAA Preliminaries on May 26-29 for the first time in his career. A native of New Zealand, Beaumont’s journey as a runner has been unique to say the least.

“I started competitive running when I was 12, 13 years old,” Beaumont said. “I had been running since [I was] about six or seven years old. I always enjoyed hiking and the outdoors as a kid. I could get out on a trail and be on hills and mountains and I would just start running.”

He said his native country’s emphasis on running combined with his love for the outdoors from a young age made the sport a natural fit. Beaumont’s favorite type of running, however, does not come on a track.

“I love mountain running, that’s my favorite discipline of running,” Beaumont said. “Not that I don’t enjoy track and everything else, but when I’m on the trails of mountains I really get a sense of what I love about running. […] It sounds awful to most people but I love it.”

As a mountain runner in New Zealand, Beaumont finished ninth at the World Mountain Running Championships. It was his success in mountain running which caught Director of track and field Carl Sheffield’s eye during the recruiting process.

“He had become so proficient in mountain running,” Sheffield said. “We have a really strong [cross country] team, so we thought he’d be fantastic running cross country because of his background in mountain racing. He had decent track times, but our men’s team is really built for cross country.”

After arriving at North Texas, Beaumont was able to stay relatively healthy and steadily improve his times during his first two seasons. A stress fracture in his femur during the 2019-20 season, though, combined with the pandemic to keep him from competing at all.

While Beaumont has dealt with a few injuries since then, roommate and junior long distance runner Caleb Bouchard said he has a knack for recovering quickly.

“A lot of athletes take a lot longer to come back from some of the injuries [Beaumont’s] had,” Bouchard said. “He has this weird ability to just jump right back into things and he’s fine, like he was never hurt in the first place. Him training for a couple weeks is sometimes all it takes.”

Back in February, Beaumont began experiencing pain in his lower back about a week before the C-USA Indoor Championships but attempted to compete anyway. The pain forced him to stop midway through a race and he soon discovered he had a sacral fracture — a break in the large triangular bone located at the base of the spine.

He then began a mentally challenging rehab process which kept him from running for 12 weeks.

“I lost a lot of motivation at that point and I didn’t see myself being able to come back to run this season at all,” Beaumont said. “After about two weeks of just pushing through [the] not feeling great, I started to realize I was not in as bad of shape as I thought. Within two or three weeks I had made a dramatic change and I was back to being able to work out with all the guys on the team.”

Bouchard said there is a tight bond between long distance runners which helps them all stay motivated while injured.

“I think part of it is the team culture that allows him to stay positive, allows any of us to stay positive when we’re injured,” Bouchard said. “It’s not like you fall off the train and nobody turns around and cares. Even if you are injured, you’re still part of everything that’s going on every day.”

In returning to competition at the North Texas Classic on April 10, Beaumont won the 3000-meter steeplechase in stadium record time (9:11.50).

“Just to get that feeling of winning again and almost hitting a PR, when I finished that race I felt amazing,” Beaumont said. “It was a great moment for me to realize, even though I’ve had these injuries, it’s not over yet.”

After bettering his time by 10 seconds to win the event again on May 9 in College Station, Beaumont then qualified for NCAA Preliminaries at the C-USA Outdoor Championships in program record time. Regaining motivation has been a key part of his successful return.

“Really the thing that has gotten me through is I’ve gotten my motivation back,” Beaumont said. “It would be easy for me to not train and think I’m not going to get back, but I hung onto the hope that I would get back and didn’t really let go. That’s how I got back to where I am now.”

Senior long-distance runner Jack Beaumont rounds the first corner in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the North Texas Classic on April 10, 2021. Beaumont won the event with a stadium-record time of 9:11.50. Image by John Fields

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John Fields

John Fields

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