Last fall’s Born to Run tutorial attracted several first-year students with a passion for running. And even a few without. That gave Vicki Bentley-Condit, professor of anthropology, an idea for bringing them back together again.
Students in the course tackled the question “Are humans born to run?”
The class examined anatomical, genetic, evolutionary, and cultural factors, including modern-day endurance runners who run multiple marathons and ultra-marathons.
“We talked about basic anatomy; different types of runners like horses, cheetahs, and humans; the little that we know about the importance of running on the African savannah,” says Bentley-Condit, “and compared that with today. With the few individuals who run very well and the majority who don’t run at all.”
The course even included a field trip to the nearby Prairie Meadows racetrack to watch the horses run. Although Bentley-Condit picked winners, she says superior anatomical knowledge wasn’t the secret. She used less rigorous criteria, such as one entrant’s attractive pink socks.
This May, Bentley-Condit, a marathon runner herself, says she wanted to give her students a chance to “walk the walk having talked the talk.” So she tempted the class back to her house for an end-of-year, noncompetitive 5K dubbed the First Annual “Born to Run” Run. As an added bonus, she also provided a home-cooked brunch.
Most of the students in the original class made it, even though the run started at 9 a.m. on a Sunday. “Apparently,” laughs Bentley-Condit, “that’s early for some of them.” Bentley-Condit hopes to continue to offer the event each spring until the students graduate in 2015.