Mile News

Superstar runner Katie Rainsberger closes out senior year with 10th state title, national attention

May 23, 2016

"She knows so much about the sport, she's such a good motivator, encouraging, taking the younger kids under her wing."

By John Meyer, The Denver Post

It is an hour before Katie Rainsberger will run her final race for Air Academy High School, the 1600 meters at the Colorado state high school meet on an unseasonably hot Saturday afternoon. One of Colorado’s greatest-ever high school runners is lying in the shade under a team canopy, zoning out to focus her famous intensity, mostly silent, listening to upbeat tunes on her earbuds.

“Right now she’s OK,” whispers her teammate and best friend, Kayla Wiitala. “Sometimes you can’t talk to her.”

Katie is preparing herself to hurt. This is where she must go in order to be great, and to get there she needs to be left alone.

“Before the race, I know I’m going to have to get to that point of no return, that point of pain,” Rainsberger had explained two weeks earlier on her lunch hour at school. “You have to mentally prepare yourself to get to that place. So before the race, I need to be in my zone, I need to be in a calming atmosphere, I need to listen to my music and do my routine. That way, when I get into the race, I can take a deep breath and perform and execute.”

Rainsberger and her mother, Lisa, call it PMS: Pre-Meet Syndrome.

“She goes into her space, and she gets kind of snappy,” says Lisa, the last American to win the Boston Marathon (1985). “My husband and I, and everyone in the family, and her best friend, we all know.”

They know they need to give her space. And wait for greatness.

Getting started early
Katie is up at 6:00am on a Tuesday morning, eating her usual breakfast of oatmeal beside 14-year-old brother, Ian, at the kitchen counter in their family’s gorgeous home on a hillside overlooking Colorado Springs. She is out the door at 6:45, driving herself to school. At the foot of the mountain where she lives is the course where she won two Colorado Class 4A cross country titles.

On this day she is only four days removed from running the fifth-fastest 1500 meters ever for a U.S. high school girl in the Oregon Twilight meet at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, finishing in 4 minutes, 14.2 seconds. She finished second in that race – by less than a second — behind Treniere Moser, a 34-year-old four-time U.S. outdoor champion.

These are heady days for Katie as graduation approaches.

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