Craig Engels made the semi-final with his run last night in the heats, and he is racing in the semi-finals tonight, June 22, 2024; we wish him much luck! 

The Challenging Road To Paris – 5th in A Series – Craig Engels  – by Jeff Benjamin

It’s hard not to root for Craig Engels. Having pursued Olympic dreams since 2016, Engels has never been afraid to mix it up with the best.

With a seeded 1-mile time of 3:52, Engels no doubt has his work cut out for him as he faces possibly America’s deepest-ever group of milers at the Olympic Trials next week.

But one can’t doubt his mental fortitude, as measured by his quotes below.

1) How is your training coming along?

“Training is going amazing. I’m crushing every day and enjoying life. I feel the most fit I’ve ever been, and now it’s time to utilize it.”

2) What are your scheduled races prior to the Olympic Trials?

“The Last race before the Olympic trials is the Portland Track Festival, which my good friend Tate puts on. I’ll be racing the 800 there.”

The author, Jeff Benjamin and Craig Engels, when both were younger, photo by Jeff Benjamin

3) Has you changed anything in your training for this Olympic year?

“I tried the robot-distance-runner lifestyle. No traveling, no partying, eating right, sleeping right, sitting at home all day, and basically being as selfish as possible. It’s been an experience, one that’s made me feel fit, but I’m conflicted about whether it’s the right way to live life. I figured I didn’t want to look back in 20 years and say, “Well if I had just been more serious.”

4) Who comprises your support system, and why are they important?

“It’s basically me and my coach. We have a great training group here but have separate goals. We also have a great massage therapist, acupuncturist, and chiropractor. Living in San Luis Obispo has been awesome, and these guys have kept my old body healthy.”

Craig Engels, photo by Jeff Benjamin

5) Any advice you’d like to give out there, especially to young runners?

“Have fun. I always had fun and kept it loose until this year. It’s been cool proving to myself that I can give up a lot of things in the pursuit of happiness, but it has also changed me for the worse. I had so much more fun when I saw my friends more often, went golfing, played spike ball and pickleball, traveled, saw family, and made new friends and memories.

I ran the same times but had more fun before this year. Just enjoy the journey, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t hit your wildly absurd goals. Just be proud you have those wildly absurd goals. And remember, only one person wins at the end of the day. Everyone else goes home a little disappointed.”