Quamel Prince (know as "Q" to his friends) is one of the most talented, hard-working young runners I have ever had the privilege of working with. I've known him since he was a high school standout at Antioch High School, winning the Tennessee State 800m title in 2011 and 2012. He ran collegiately for Tennessee State University. While at TSU, Q won 8 Ohio Valley Conference titles and lowered his PB to 1:48.21 before graduating in May 2017.
A breakfast meeting at Waffle House at the end of May, a few weeks after his graduation, led to me offering to help him in the next chapter of his running career. Two weeks later he ran 1:46.76 to place 4th at the Music City Distance Carnival and qualify for the U.S. Championships. His time ranked him #22 in the nation for 2017. In his first ever National Championship, out in the searing heat of Sacramento, CA, Q handled himself well and barely missed qualifying for the semi-finals.
Above: Q and I at the 2017 U.S. Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, CA.
View video of Quamel's U.S Champs 800m heat
Before I started working with Q, his longest ever run was 6 miles, and most of his workouts were anaerobic or sprint-type in nature. I knew that, with a bigger aerobic base and a different approach to his training, Q could run at a level that would see him vying for U.S team selection and/or being a finalist at National Championships.
He must have thought I was nuts when I had him doing 10-11 mile long runs and pre-sunrise Lactate Threshold pace 1000m reps with my marathon runner clients back in the fall. But he never second-guessed the training; he just got stuck in and trusted the process.
Above: Q and his training partner Erick midway through a workout at Rose Park track.
Running is not a sport that delivers instant gratification, and the fruits of our labor (well, let's face it, mostly his!) will not be borne until the spring. But the aerobic grunt work he has done this fall and winter have made him a lot stronger than he has ever been, I am going to stick my neck out and predict that Q runs significantly faster in 2018.
Our goal is to run 1:45.00, a time that only five U.S. runners eclipsed in 2017. It's a lofty goal and our road there will be a challenging one with speed bumps along the way.
Beyond that 1:45.00 goal, we aim to qualify for the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
These are not pipe dreams. If he does not make a U.S team, Q has the option to represent Guyana (a small country in northern South America), where he was born and lived until the age of 9. Note that Q was only 0.86 seconds of the 2017 World Championships qualifying time.
Our tentative 2018 season looks like this:
1/13: Vandy Indoor Meet | Nashville | 2nd | 1:48.39 (Indoor PB - U.S Champs qualifier)
1/27: Dr. Sanders Indoor Invite | New York, NY | 1st "B" heat | 1:48.01 (Indoor PB)
2/16-17: U.S. Indoor Champs | Albuquerque, NM
3/24: Black & Gold Invitational | Nashville
4/1: Florida Relays | Gainesville, FL
4/15: Tennessee Relays | Knoxville
4/22: Mt SAC Relays | Torrance, CA
6/2: Music City Distance Carnival | Nashville
6/22-24: U.S. Outdoor Champs | Des Moines, IA
One challenge for an (as yet) unsponsored athlete, of course, is the financial one. Traveling to meets that provide the necessary level of competition, and also to National Championships, represents the biggest expense for Q and me.
It is our hope that the running community in Nashville and our network of friends might donate a few dollars so that we don't go broke chasing Q's goals.
Thanks for reading this. I will be creating a web page for Quamel so folks can follow his progress and support from near and far. Please consider helping us, either via this GoFundMe page or by donating airline points/miles.
We won't let you down!
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