Posted by Justin Rice February 2, 2012 11:39 AM
Photo courtesy of Salem State UniversityWhen Andrew Darien first attended the University of Michigan in the late 1980s he walked onto the Big Ten school’s track team. By the time he graduated the middle-distance runner was regularly outpacing the scholarship athletes.
Hanging his spikes up after graduation, the Salem State University history professor didn’t get back into the game until 16 years later when his son’s preschool teacher told him about a new master’s level running club called the Eliot Track Club.
“It was named after the Eliot Lounge, that’s a bar that in its heyday in the 70s and 80s was where all the Boston Marathon local runners hung out after the marathon,” the 41-year-old who has taught at Salem State for seven years said during a phone interview this morning.
“He said 'We’re going to try to get together and run, it’s an excuse to get together at Harvard on Tuesday nights and you won’t have to read bedtime stories or put your kids to bed and we’ll have beers afterward.' I started doing it and realized we’re pretty good.”
Three years after joining the four-year-old Team Eliot, the Cambridge resident and his teammates set both an American and a world record in the indoor distance medley relay last Friday. Competing at Boston University’s 2012 Terrier Invitational, the team clocked a time of 10 minutes 55.1 seconds to beat the previous record of 11 minutes .02 seconds.
“It was a real soft record, we thought we could do it,” said Darien, who ran the 800-meter leg of the race in a time of 2.03. “We actually tried to break it last year, we thought we had a good shot. Part of the challenge at this age avoiding injuring and everyone is juggling work and family schedules.”
The team only practices once a week at Harvard but they run individually five days a week.
“Really the key thing is having one day a week to meet at the track and get a hard core workout in,” he said, adding that he wakes up a 5:30 a.m. each day to get a run in so he can be to work by 8 a.m. “We all make some sacrifice and we all have awesome wives that give us reprieve on weekends and Tuesday nights to run races and work out.”
Currently on sabbatical, Darien is writing a book on the integration of women and African Americans into the New York Police Department between 1941 and 1975, and a history of Brookline’s Temple Sinai, which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary.
Darien, who was a Big Ten finalist and an All-Academic Big Ten selection while an undergraduate, said he doesn’t brag to his students about his accomplishments outside the classroom.
“I don’t really talk about it too much, I haven’t really mentioned it to them,” he said. “Occasionally they’ll see me running around campus. … I’m happy to talk about it if it comes up, it’s not like I’m hiding it, but I sort of like to have a life away from [Salem State].”
Justin A. Rice can be reached at email@example.com.