Kent Ford: Never Running Alone

Kent Ford  Westerville North

HS Class:  2013

Personal Bests

  • 1,600 Meter Run  4:34.81
  • 3200 Meter Run  9:24.53
  • Three Mile Run  18:51.00
  • 5,000 Meter Run  15:37.80
  • 800 Meter Run  2:05.07
  • One Mile Run  4:45.04


Kent Ford is Westeville North's # 2 runner, just behind their #1 runner, Jacob Dumford.  Kent has vastly improved from his Junior year and with his experience has helped to propel the Westerville North team to the #5 spot inthe OATCCC poll.  This week is Districts and they are the strong favorite to win their District.  Kent is ranked 4th in the State at this time, running a 15:21.06 in last weeks Cardinal Div. OCC Conference Championship, just behind Dumford who is ranked second in the State with a 15:15.27.  They are arguable the best one-two runners in the State and just may lead their Westerville North team to the podium in a few weeks.  We spoke to Kent about his background, as well as the improvement he has seen from last year to this year and he and his teams expectations for the remainder of the XC season.

OHRunners:  Kent, thank you for the opportunity to interview with you.  You and your Westerville North teammates are having a very successful XC season thus far.  The team is ranked 5th in the last OATCCC Cross Country Weekly Poll.  As an individual you are ranked 4th with a 15:21.06.  Last year you ran 39th at the State D1 XC meet and in the Regional 3,200 at Pickerington you ran a fine 9:25.02, but because of the depth of the Regional field, you missed qualifying for State by .31 seconds.  There was only 1.47 seconds separating the 2nd place finisher from you in 5th place.

As a senior this year, how would you categorize this XC season so far? 

Kent:  This season has been going better than we thought it would. I never really set a time goal for the season but I’m really happy with the races I've run so far. It has been going by fast and it’s sad to know that I won’t get to run these courses again, but I'm just looking forward to the bigger races to come

OHRunners:  Your time has improved dramatically from your sophomore to junior years in the 3200m and also thus far in XC.  What is the difference between the 2012 seasons (track and XC) and the 2011 seasons?

Kent:  In track, my 3200 went from a 9:51 sophomore year to a 9:24 last year, and my 800 improved a lot, so that speed helped out a lot. I would say one of the main reasons is all of the strength type training we do, I'm more of a strength runner so that type of training benefits me a lot. Also we try to practice hard but smart, and when we have a big group of guys all working together that really pushes us all to run faster. We also have great coaches, Coach Dave (Weaner) is a great head coach, and our assistant coach, Tom Brumlik, works with us a lot along with my brother Kevin Ford. They work hard to figure out what type of workouts we benefit from the most so that we can perform as well as possible.

OHRunners:  What type of strength type training do you do?  What is a typical strength type training workout?

Kent:  In the beginning of the season we will do several 10 mile progressions, where we start at a decent pace and every two miles we pick it up 15-20 seconds. In the middle of the season, we'll do some mile repeats with little recovery in between. The goal is to be running your fastest when you're most tired at the end of the workout. Those are just two strength workouts that I would do, but our coach individualizes them based on what type of runner we are. So a runner like Jacob typically won't be doing the same type of strength workout as a runner like me.

OHRunners:  Your 800 PR is 2:05.07.  What is your 400 speed? 

Kent:  Well I never really run the 800 in track, except for the 4x8. I split 1:58.8 at regionals when our team ran 7:42. My pr in the 400 is only 55.9, so when I run the 800, I feel like I am just holding my fastest sprint for two laps.

OHRunners:  After Regionals in track last Spring, did you take time off at the end of the season? What type of miles did you run over the summer? All distance? Did you run any 5 or 10k's.

Kent:  After regional’s, I ran in the state 4x800, but after that I started my time off. I took two full weeks off with one week just getting back into things. I averaged around 45-50 miles a week, with a couple of 60 mile weeks  thrown in and some cross training. No, I didn't run in any races over the summer.

OHRunners:  You are fortunate enough to have one of the State’s leading XC runners as a teammate.   Jacob Dumford (#647) is ranked 2nd in the State with a time of 15:15.27.  He ran 10th last year in the D1 State XC race.  He is also the 2012 New Balance Outdoor Nationals 800m Champion with a time of 1:51.15. He was 2nd in the D1 800m last Spring at the OHSAA State Track and Field Championship and has a 4:13.17 1,600 Meter Run PR.  How would you describe your relationship with Jacob?

Kent:  My relationship with Jacob is great; he's one of my best friends. We've been running together since middle school, along with some other guys on the team. It's always good to have someone that is a different type of runner on the team with you. Since he's more of an 800, speed guy, and I'm more a 3200, strength guy, we can push each other in some workouts.

OHRunners:  Let’s go back a little in your career.  When did you first start running XC and track?

Kent:  I first started running track when I was in the 7th grade, but sadly, I ran the 100 meter dash. I started cross country in 8th grade, so my 8th grade track season, I decided to try and run more distance races.

OHRunners:  Did you participate in any other sports?  Do you still?

Kent:  I played rec. soccer for 5-6 years.  My brothers were all on the team with me and my step dad was the coach, so that was really fun. When I was going into my freshman year, my mom made me make a hard decision. Everything was pretty much in a turmoil as my dad was recovering from a car accident that my brother and I were in as well.  My step dad was always working. My mom was recovering from cancer and couldn’t take me to soccer while my brother went to cross country. So, she told me it was cross country or nothing.  Luckily, I decided on cross country.

[editor's note:] Kent's mother sent us some photos of Kent, and in doing so, we learned a little more about what Kent, his mother and his brother have overcome the last few years.  Kent's mother, Jo, provided an insight into who Kent is, his motivation and to what he truly has accomplished. 

"... he has accomplished all of this while in 2007 I had Breast Cancer, in 2008 a horrific car accident that he was in with his brother and his father. That accident changed the course of our lives. Literally. It took me 2 years to help get Kent’s father back on his feet from that accident that left him with a brain injury and many lengthy surgeries to put him back together. Kent had to make the change from soccer to running as I could not keep up with everything. Turns out, it was the BEST choice! Kent ran XC and Track during all of these life trials and just when we thought we were home free, his Dad took his life. Kent and Kevin (now a sophomore at Otterbein) although devastated at the loss of their father, never missed a day of school or running. Both of my sons have come back stronger than ever and as Kent will tell you…..they never run alone, their Dad is with them every step. In his last words, “I want you to study hard, run hard and play hard. I may not be there in person, but I will always be watching over you.” Kent and Kevin both live by this. Both are/were National Honor Society, Scholar Athletes, Award winning artists [see picture of Galen Rupp] and Kent even plays the violin and guitar. I am never far away with a camera in my hand, for all of the XC, TRACK and Orchestra events .... My family has had the wonderful benefit of living in a community that supports their families in good and bad times and they kept us going with all their support."

OHRunners:  Districts are this weekend.  Last weekend in the OCC Cardinal Divison Championships, your Westerville North team won with just 34 points.  You were 2nd to Jacob Dumford.  You are an experienced team with three runners under 16 minutes.  Yourself, Dumford and senior Nick Chatel.  Chatel was 6th. Your 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th runners are all under 17 minutes and only separated by 7 seconds.  In OCC’s Evan Larrick was 12th, Seth Weinrich was 13th, Nick Horton was 14 and Phil Horn was 16th. Describe the type of workouts that you are doing at this time of the season in preparation for Districts?   What is a typical week for you at this time?  Mon-Friday? 

1     Jacob Dumford           15:15.27        

2     Kent Ford                     15:21.06    

6     Nicholas Chatel         15:48.83    

12   Evan Larrick               16:24.33       

13   Seth Wenrich             16:29.01       

14   Nicholas Horton        16:31.12    

16   Phillip Horn                16:32.88   

Kent:  We have started to lower our volume a little and have added more speed, interval type workouts. Typically on Monday we will do a hill circuit, Tuesday, will be a long run, Wednesday will be a hard workout, Thursday is all cross training, and Friday is about an hour run with some short sprints added in.  Our cross training is swimming. 

OHRunners:  The day before a competition, how do you prepare for a race in terms of your workout and your mental preparation?  How do you prepare for a race on race day?  What is your typical warm up?

Kent:  The day before a race will typically be pretty easy, but we want to get our bodies and muscles ready for race day so we throw in some short, hard sprints. Mentally, I try to visualize the race in the different ways that it could play out. I remember all my training and I believe in it, so I know I’m in the shape that I need to be in. I also think about my goals and how I can work on achieving them. On race day, I normally take a nice hot shower to loosen up and I stretch out. I also try to sit down as much as possible so I'm not standing around all day. On the way to the meet, I listen to a lot of music to get me pumped up and again I think about my goals for that race and the season. For our warm up, our whole team starts with some pre warm up exercises. Then we go run for about 15 minutes, do some drills, then we head over to the start line to do some strides.

OHRunners:  What is your general strategy in a 5K race from start to finish?  i.e first 400, mile, 2-mile, 3-mile  and finish?

Kent:  My race strategy depends on the race and who all is in it. Typically, it's just to take it out somewhat hard the first 400 to get in with the leaders.  By the mile, I want to be in the lead group.  At the two mile, I try to pick it up and stay in the lead group. By the third mile, I hope to still be in the lead group, and I start to mentally prepare myself for the finish. I start to drive and push myself with around 800 to go, and at the finish I just give whatever is left. Each individual on our team’s goal is to not be passed in the last mile.

OHRunners:  What are your expectations for yourself and for your Westerville North team as we head in to Districts?

Kent:  I want to be in the top two individually and our team wants to win it, however, we just keep working towards running our fastest at  District, Regional and State.

OHRunners:  Thanks Kent.  We are looking forward to seeing you, as well as your teammates at State.