Former Sailors competing in collegiate cross-country |

Former Sailors competing in collegiate cross-country

John Cutter and Brittany Long find their stride

Luke Graham

— Stepping onto a college campus can be a new and sometimes frightening thing.

For many freshmen, stepping onto a campus and competing in a sport can make that transition even more overwhelming.

But 2009 Steamboat Springs High School graduates John Cutter and Brittany Long have had a different feeling and approach to the beginnings of their careers as collegiate cross-country runners.

So far, there haven’t been many surprises.

“I felt really prepared for it,” Cutter said. “It’s like everything I did in high school, but with more intensity and more time.”

Cutter, who is running for the University of San Diego, and Long, who is running for Portland State University, have each competed several times this year.

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As the top two runners for Steamboat for several years, the two were used to running with the lead pack.

Now, the biggest difference the two see is running in the middle or the back of the pack. It’s a change, but each said it’s a change they expected.

“It’s hard to pick up from the back to get up toward the front,” Long said. “It’s a completely different experience.”

Cutter and Long decided years ago that they wanted to run in college. Along with the help of Brittany’s father, Greg Long, the two have trained in a college-esque environment for several years.

Greg Long, who ran in college, designed workout plans to allow the two to get to the next level.

During each summer, the two would put in long miles in preparation for fall.

Cutter, who ran 5-kilometer races in high school but has moved up to 8- and 10-kilometer races in college, said he got his mileage up to 70 miles a week this year.

Although he admits the first several days of practice in San Diego were tough, the work he put in during the summer certainly paid off.

Cutter filled in the seventh spot on the varsity team.

Now he runs upwards of 80 miles a week with his team and rarely does the pace slow to more than seven minutes a mile.

“My freshman goal was to make the traveling squad,” Cutter said. “I just made it. I want to stay healthy and keep getting faster. I was warned this year wasn’t going to be a fast year as I’m trying to adapt to the training. I’m keeping the focus on my junior and senior years.”

Brittany Long, who runs 5-kilometer races in college, said the training regimen is tough but the atmosphere surrounding the college running scene is the best part of competing.

Although the cross-country team made state several times during Cutter and Brittany Long’s careers at Steamboat, both said being around athletes with the same passion for running has made the transition much easier.

“It’s more intense,” Brittany Long said. “But it makes things almost better. Having a team to run with – I mean, I loved my team in Steamboat – but it’s really, really different to run with my team at practice and sometimes in races. It really helps me to run faster.”

Cutter is double majoring in theology and international relations. Brittany Long is studying biology and naturopathy.