Interview with Kate O'Neill
By Parker Morse

Kate O'Neill ran with the pack through the mile mark at the 2003 Mayor's Cup...
(All Photos: Alison Wade/New York Road Runners)
...emerged from the woods in a two-woman race with Amy Rudolph...
...sprinted to a win in 16:33...
...and spoke with Parker Morse after the race.

After second-place finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, 5000m indoor championships, and 10,000m outdoor championships, then another runner-up finish at the USA 10k Championships at the Tufts 10k for women, Kate O'Neill landed a win at the Mayor's Cup cross country meet on October 26th.

A three-time All-American in cross country for Yale, O'Neill also picked up three All-American finishes in track, and she holds the Yale school records for 3,000m, 5,000m, and 10,000m. With her twin sister, Laura, finishing fourth in the NCAA 10,000m, O'Neill has never had to worry about having someone to train with. spoke with O'Neill immediately after her Mayor's Cup win. It looked like you made a pretty serious move on the hill. When you came down you were moving pretty quickly.
Kate O'Neill:
Yeah. It wasn't really a plan, I just felt good at that point, so I did it then. I felt like I got in a good rhythm on the hill. It felt like it clicked right then.

FW: You've run on this course before, right?
Many, many times, yes.

FW: Does the familiarity help?
Definitely. I'm really bad at learning new courses.

FW: I don't know if you could claim to be more familiar with it than, say, Amy Rudolph (who raced here with Providence College.)
I might be. I ran here a lot in high school, three or four times a year. I haven't been here since [my] junior year [at Yale] and it was a 6k then. It was the Northeast regional meet that year.

FW: This is two pretty good results in a row, with the Tufts 10k and now this win. Have you been training specifically for the fall season?
I'm really aiming for the cross country nationals in February, and of course in the spring, hopefully, the Olympic Trials. These feel like big races now, in the fall, but it's all preparation for what's coming later on.

FW: Do you have a Trials time already, from the NCAA season last spring?
The qualifier is for the "B", but it's two seconds off the "A", so hopefully they would get in, but we're hoping to run some more good 10ks before the Trials.

FW: Is the 10,000m going to be the event, then?

FW: So is this peak training? What does this represent in terms of what you feel like you could do?
It's a peak for the fall. I feel really good right now, but I feel like there's room for improvement.

FW: Do you and your sister always finish in this order [Laura was two places behind at Tufts]?
It goes back and forth. We're always together in practice, and we're better at different things. Laura recovers faster from intervals, so when we're jogging in between she's the one who keeps the pace up, and that's really important, I think it's helped a lot in the 10k. We both help each other out a lot.

FW: Do you have anything else planned for the fall?
We'll be running the Manchester Road Race. We're staying in New Haven through the winter; I work for Yale in the Development Office. I have flexible hours.

FW: What are you doing for them?
I help out with events and publications. I'm really lucky, I have part-time hours there, and they allow me to keep practicing. I go in for six hours a day, and they're very understanding about traveling for competition.

FW: The Nike sponsorship must be a big lift, too.
Yes, that came through the week before Tufts. All of this stuff is new, it's very exciting. It's fun to have a uniform. It's not the same as a team, because you don't train with them, but it's nice.

FW: You have your own micro-team, though.
Yes, I still have Laura, and I still get to see the college team every day. We work out at the same time as them, and sometimes we run together, but they weren't racing this weekend, they had a race last weekend. So our workouts each week will be a little different depending on who's racing. Also, they're only training for 5k and 6k, and we're training for the 10k also. So we're doing longer stuff.

FW: Do you feel like you get stronger as the race gets longer?
Yes, I think so. I love the shorter stuff, I love running the mile because it's so fun, but I think the longer stuff is better for me. 10k is the longest I've raced so far, though.

FW: Did you feel like you were stepping down to 5k today?
It did feel shorter, I couldn't believe how quickly it went by.

(Interview conducted October 26, 2003, posted November 5, 2003.)

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