Joining the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team, former BYU runner Jared Ward claimed the last spot on the team after finishing third in the Olympic qualifiers in February 2016.
“I went as fast as I could, and I ran 4:50 that mile, and I’m sure that was my fastest mile,” Jared said about his sprint to the finish, clocking 2:13 for the marathon.
Ward, 27, explained how he sees running as a steady improvement and progression. “Ever since high school, where I only ran 40 miles a week, I’ve focused on making incremental improvements in my running,” he said. “Every season, and every year, I try to run just a little more, a little harder, and a little faster.”
However, when he took two years out of his running career to serve a mission, that steady physical improvement ground to a halt, when he realized he couldn’t run extensively without leaving his assigned companion.
“Something that I had always wanted to do was serve a mission. That was a priority,” Ward said. “So we decided to put running on the back burner for a couple of years and take that time to serve the Lord.”
However, “[the] pounds were coming on,” he explained, “and I realized there wasn’t going to be anything I could do in that half-hour that was really going to keep me where I was at.”
When Jared returned from his mission, he was determined to run competitively again. He joined Brigham Young University’s cross-country team, where he trained and competed on a high level. He earned a master’s degree in statistics and and had two children with his wife, Erica.
“It means a lot,” Ward said, when asked how he feels about going to the Olympics. “I don’t think it’s really set in yet. I’m still trying to get my legs to feel normal again. It’s quite the experience to see the people you love right after the race. … That makes it more real when you see so many people who’ve been such a big part of your life, and that you really owe the success to, around you and enjoying it. That makes it more real.”
Jared Ward will compete in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, starting on August 5.