Running the race of his life

August 8, 2003

PARIS — Champion runner David Krummenacker will be praying for his competitors at the world championships this month.

"Before races I pray everyone in the race runs well and that we all keep our health," says Mr. Krummenacker, who is from the United States and is a member of the Baha'i Faith.

"I never pray for victory, only for strength and for my health to remain strong," says Mr. Krummenacker, 28, who anchored a world record quartet in the 4x800 meter relay in 2000.

Ranked number one in the United States in the 800-meter and 1500-meter races, he has a good chance of success at the 9th International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships to be held in Stade de France, Paris, beginning on 23 August 2003.

Last March, at the world indoor championships in Birmingham, England, he surged past world record holder Wilson Kipketer of Denmark to win the 800-meter race in a personal best of one minute 45.69 seconds.

Mr. Krummenacker has achieved some of his goals, such as being national champion, but he still has others. One is success in the Olympic Games to be held in Athens next year.

"I believe consistency, hard work, good coaching, proper diet, rest, and the grace of God, Who instills my health and internal strength, will aid me to achieve what I have set out to."

David Krummenacker at the US championships, 2003. Slideshow
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David Krummenacker at the US championships, 2003.

In defining the relationship between spirituality and sports, Mr. Krummenacker says that spirituality permeates every human activity.

"It is the essence of our existence and athletics is no exception.

"When it is not present, differences arise. Frequently we hear stories in the media of athletes having problems with their teammates, their coaches, their competitors, their wives and girlfriends. These turmoils are oftentimes a result of the lack of spirituality. I think when spirituality is present, conflicts cease."

Running, he says, has taught him life lessons, and he meditates on his goals as he goes on long training runs.

"As a result, I often envision things that I've set out to accomplish. For me, visualizing something before it happens helps it to materialize.

"Running has taught me over the years that life is very much what you will of it. I've had some years where I wasn't successful in running and was sad and frustrated because of it. I learned somewhere along the way that your treasure is where your heart and soul are."

He does not just pray and expect to win. In fact, he says he prepares tirelessly for competitions throughout the season.

"I believe when training is good and the grace of God has enabled me to stay healthy and strong, it's only left for me to believe in my ability and go for it. There is no room for doubt."

Mr. Krummenacker says he is "very grateful for having had the guidance of Baha'ullah from day one." He was brought up in the Baha'i Faith by his mother, Marylou, who lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She has a "Baha'i women's network", linked globally by the Internet, whose members pray for him to run his best.

Running is a full time job, he says. "A lot of my friends think, 'Oh, you just go for an hour run, then you sit around the rest of the day.'

"In contrast, between traveling to training sites, warming up, stretching, track workouts, weight training, morning runs, cool-downs, and ice whirlpools (injury prevention) I have very few moments in a day. There has to be a little time for fun, so I'm careful not to overdo it."

His other interests include surfing, playing chess, music and reading. He trains in Tucson Arizona with coach Luiz de Oliviera, spends time in Atlanta, and uses a training base near Stuttgart, Germany, during competitions in Europe.

Mr. Krummenacker, who holds a degree in management from Georgia Tech, says that after he retired in "another six years or so", he would like to devote his energies to children.

"I am very interested in restructuring -- or creating if need be -- after-school programs for underprivileged children. The programs would provide kids with tutoring, counseling and coaching for various sports."

(Tom Mennillo of "The American Baha'i" contributed to this report).