Interview: Sarah Toland
By Alison Wade & Parker Morse

Sarah Toland nears the finish of the 2002 USATF Winter Cross Country Nationals 8k race in seventh place.
(Photo: New York Road Runners)

We caught up with Sarah Toland shortly after she finished seventh in the 8k at the 2002 USATF Winter Cross Country Nationals. Toland, a 2000 graduate of NCAA Division III Colby College, trains with Colorado Elite in Boulder, Colorado and is coached by Jason Drake. The following day, Toland placed seventh in the 4k race as well. While only the top six are guaranteed a slot on the U.S. World Cross Country team that will compete March 23-24 in Dublin, Ireland, Toland will be the first alternate for both teams.

(See Also: February 2001 Interview with Sarah Toland)

How did you feel about your race today?
I was really happy. I finished eighth last year and I knew the field was a little bit tougher this year, so I'm really happy with how I did. It felt good, I felt strong the whole way... I was really nervous before we started and I'd been sick last week. But I felt great so the rest paid off... On my last lap I kind of got out there alone and I tried to put distance on the girls behind me so I wouldn't have to worry about sprinting at the end (laughs).

Is it hard finishing seventh and being so close to making the team?
Yeah. I guess it's a little bit better that sixth was so far in front of me (laughs). Because if she'd been right there it would have been a little bit more tragic, but since she was a good deal in front of me, it was like, "Damn, I just missed it." But hopefully one of these girls will want to run indoor track or something, or just not want to go.

Weren't you recently named to one of the U.S. Ekiden teams?
Yeah, I'm supposed to go to Beijing on Tuesday. I told myself that if I made the World Cross team, I wouldn't go. So maybe I can exact some answers from somebody...

If you do go to Beijing, when is the race?
Next weekend. But I'm thinking about coming back and running the 4k tomorrow.

A lot of people are registered in both the 8k and 4k this weekend, did you register just to have a fall back?
Actually, when I started feeling bad two weeks ago, I just decided to run both just in case I slipped or something, I wanted to be registered in both. Then yesterday when I checked in, I wasn't registered in both. I called the Nike rep. and told him to put me in both, because I knew the competition was going to be stiff. I'll probably still run the 4k, unless I feel terrible or something.

Cross country really seems to be your specialty, particularly this race. Why is that?
I always thought I liked the track better, because I don't know pace at all and I always thought that as long as I hit a certain lap time... that just seemed easier to me than going out and running on a course with no splits. But I guess I like cross country (laughs).

Have you set your track goals for this year yet?
Yeah, I'd like to run a really fast 5k and 10k. I've never run the 10 on the track, so I'd like to PR in both.

What's your 5k PR?
It's pretty slow - 15:59. I'm pretty confident that I can break that, I ran 15:59 three times last year. I don't want to run that again!

Do you have races picked out yet?
I still feel pretty new to this and the whole track schedule kind of eludes me. Last year I had a hard time getting in to some track meets, so this year, hopefully, it'll be a little easier. I'll just have to sit down and talk to my coach about it.

Are you still working with Jason Drake?
Yeah, he's a really great guy, JD's been great.

Who else is part of your training group at this point?
It's me, Janet Trujillo, Carrie Messner and Shawn Feeney was running with us for a while. We're really strong, we work really well together.

(At this point we had to let Sarah go to drug testing. All of the top finishers had an escort glued to them after the race and were required to report to the testing center within a strict time frame.)


(Interview conducted 2/9/02, posted 2/15/02)

Nothing contained herein may be reproduced online in any form without the express written permission of the New York Road Runners Club, Inc.