Countdown to Nationals - Meet Zachary Holloway
Zachary Holloway got his start as a basketball player in Brownsville, Oregon.
"I really wanted to play in college," said Holloway. "It was such a goal for me that I started to run to get in better shape for basketball. But what happened was that I got better at running."
As a junior, Holloway went to the state meet in the 1500 meter run, and while he was on the track team, his high school won three state team titles.
"I was just having fun with running, but I was getting recruited by more college track coaches than basketball coaches."
Holloway went on to run at Western Oregon University under Coach Johnson.
"Coming out of high school, I was only running 45 to 50 miles a week and I was only doing workouts once a week. Then, all of a sudden, Coach Johnson wanted me to do 400 meter repeats in 54 seconds. I was like, what? In the four by four hundred meter relays I ran on in high school, my splits were 55 or 56, and now in a workout I'm going faster?"
Holloway improved so much his freshman year of college that he qualified for and competed at the USATF Junior Nationals in the 3000 meter steeplechase.
"I was a guy with not a lot of foot speed, but Coach Johnson had a huge impact on my training and speed development."
Holloway and his coach discovered that the steeplechase was the perfect event for his 1500 meter background and his natural strength.
"I really enjoyed the 3000 meter steeplechase because of my track background, and as a bigger guy, I have some strength that helped me get over those hurdles every 80 meters."
The strength and speed required for steeplechase translates well to the trails, which require endurance and agility for short, steep inclines and sharp turns. XTERRA Trail Run World Champ, Max King, was also a steeplechaser in college.
"In steeplechase, you have to learn how to hurdle well and attack the obstacle whether it's the hurdle or the water pit," said Holloway. "I've always enjoyed that and it's what I enjoy about the trails - the challenge comes with benefits."
Currently, Holloway volunteers with the cross-country team at Adams State, which has a long tradition of running and winning national championships under Coach Vigil and then Coach Martin.
Additionally, Holloway is a graduate assistant in the sports psychology department, where he is learning how to apply psychology to sports performance. It is a dynamic field that encompasses biomechanics, exercise science, physiology, and psychology. Holloway is open minded about where this career will take him. Coaching is an obvious choice, but there are other applications, including military performance.
Holloway is equally open minded about where his running career might take him. He's a trail runner at heart, but because he is young, he is spending time on the road racing and marathon circuit. He would love to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon, but he's just as excited to do an ultra on the trails.
This year, Holloway placed first and broke the course record in the Frozen Trail Fest 9 miler, placed 12th overall in the Phoenix Rock n' Roll Half Marathon, was second in the McDonald Forest 50k, and placed 8th at the Whiteface Sky Race.
He will be competing in the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Ogden, Utah on September 17th, and he is looking forward to taking on the course because of its beauty and its challenge.
"I really want to go out there and see what I can do," said Holloway, who will also run in the California International Marathon in December and is hoping for a corporate sponsor so he can run on the European circuit next year.
"I want to be competitive on the roads, on the trails, and in shorter distances as well as ultras. I don't want to limit myself."