This story illustrates that obvious athletic achievements often mask subtle influences.
While at Peoria Notre Dame High School, Caitlin Comfort won the 2006 Illinois AA cross-country championship, was a four-time conference champion who earned All-State four times, and was twice chosen the Illinois Track and Cross-Country Coaches Association runner of the year.
At the University of Wisconsin, Comfort earned cross-country honors as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2008 and first-team All-Big Ten two years later.
Caitlin’s “first memories of running were actually on the soccer field.” Soccer was her passion but she took inspiration from her mother, long-distance runner, Julie Comfort.
Caitlin says about her mom: “She just loved running. She would go out for a casual run in the morning to kind of start her day and I grew up around that so I saw how much she loved it . . . in 5th or 6th grade, my mom and I ran up Detweiller Hill and she just blew me out of the water. I was kind of pouting and I’m like ‘Mom wait up!’”
Caitlin’s cross-country career took root from her family’s support and their competitive nature. The height of Caitlin’s college athletic career resulted from her tenacity, dedication to team, and hard work.
After cross-country, Caitlin won two BIG 10 Track Championships, winning the 10,000-meter outdoor and 5K indoor in 2013.
And now, a mother’s subtle influences return: Success at the October 2018 Twin Cities Marathon qualifies Caitlin for the 2020 Olympic marathon trials.
Athletes sometimes answer the call of roads less traveled. More often, however, they follow paths blazed by family, coaches, and peers.
Until next time, for Stories Beyond the Scores, I’m Chris Reynolds.