Breaking records is something University of Maine senior track and field runner James Reed has become accustomed to over the course of his collegiate running career. Reed, UMaine’s lead hurdler, most recently took down the school record in the 60-meter hurdles at Boston University’s Terrier Invitational on Jan. 26 with a time of 7.97 seconds in his preliminary run, then winning the event with an 8.00 final run.
Reed is very familiar with the school record in the 60-meter hurdles, as he broke the mark first in his sophomore season with a time of 8.20. In the second meet of this season at Bates College, Reed broke his own mark with a run of 8.10. After the second record-breaking performance, Reed was anxious to get out and try to break his own mark again in Boston the following week.
“My goal at the beginning of the season was to break eight seconds for the 60-meter hurdles,” Reed said. “I thought my race was a little sloppy at Bates and there was a lot of room for improvement. So being down at an Invitational at Boston University, where I knew there were going to be a lot of other fast runners, I was excited to finally get the chance to break 8.00.”
While he was confident in his chances to once again best himself, Reed acknowledged that the jitters were a bit overwhelming.
“The hardest part about that race for me was just staying calm and not letting my nerves get the best of me. The more relaxed you are during the race, the better you are going to perform,” Reed said.
Reed also holds the record in 55-meter hurdles, a mark that he has held since his freshman year and broke in UMaine’s first meet of this season at UNH. Breaking all these records before hasn’t made doing it again less memorable for Reed, as he looks to do his best every time out.
“I think the most rewarding part about breaking this record is knowing that all the hard work you put in on and off the track is actually paying off,” Reed said. “Everything in the race [at BU] came together at the right time, and I was able stay relaxed throughout the whole race. As soon as I crossed the finish line in the heats, I knew that I had broken 8.00 — I just wasn’t sure by how much.”
The road to success has not been an easy one for Reed, as the hurdles is a physically and mentally demanding event on a runner. Reed experienced the physical tolls of the sport last year when he was forced to miss his whole junior season due to an abdominal injury. The healing process was slow and Reed was not fully recovered until this past summer. Even without that injury Reed’s health is always something he is mindful of.
“I think the most difficult part about hurdles for me is all the aches and pains,” Reed said. “I have had a lot of back and hip problems because of the repetitive nature of hurdling.”
From a mental standpoint, Reed has prided himself on keeping a level head throughout his running career and understands that results and success will not come overnight.
“Working hard speaks for itself, but being patient is especially important in an event like hurdles,” Reed said. “Since hurdles is such a technical event and it takes a lot of time to really develop. It’s important to know that all the little things that you work on in practice every day isn’t going to happen immediately, but instead over a couple of years.”
Though Reed is an academic senior, he is eligible for another year in track after having missed his junior season. Reed looks forward to building on his craft this year and next with hopes that his running career will continue after college.
“I would like to be able to continue to run, but I will have to wait and see,” Reed said. “I guess whether or not I stick with hurdles after my collegiate career all depends on how fast I am running by the time I graduate.”
Regardless of where his talent takes him, Reed will forever be remembered in Black Bear history for both his achievements and his work ethic.