By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Jeff Porcaro (MapleMountainSports.com)
Coming off a state championship in the 1,600 meters at the 2015 4A state championships, Maple Mountain runner Britney Lund rolled into her senior year with huge expectations. Twelve months later, a frustrating year ended at the same Brigham Young University track, but this time Lund was there as a spectator, with a boot on her broken foot.
She injured the foot running her favorite race, the 1,600, at a track meet a few weeks before her final chance at region and state titles.
“I was on the second lap of my mile at the Davis Invite and it snapped in half,” she said. “It was probably a stress fracture, it was overuse. I’ve learned that pain is temporary, and another thing, be grateful for what you have when you have it, take advantage of it because you never know what’s going to happen next. It is just temporary. It helps to know that I’ll be back again soon enough.”
Her track coach, Darrell Wyatt has seen how adversity like she has endured during her senior year as changed Lund. Mostly, he has watched her come out on top despite the challenges she has faced.
“It’s been great to see her battle through so many different setbacks that she’s had through the years,” Wyatt said. “I don’t think there’s been a single season where she hasn’t had at least some type of injury or something that has come up and she has battled through it.”
The challenges began during her sophomore year when it was illness, and not injury, that cost her part of the running season. She was in Ethiopia with her mother, doing humanitarian service.
“We taught them personal hygiene and what kind of foods they need to be eating, that they need to have their own toothbrushes and use good water,” Lund said. “I got sick and that cost me a couple of weeks, but I got healthy again. My dad’s a pediatric dentist, so he want originally to do service down there, then the country kicked dentists out, so just me and mom went back and did humanitarian service.”
Being sick was somewhat of a setback for Lund, but as she has done all along the way, she focused on the positives of the situation. In this case, that goes back to what she learned while watching the people in Africa.
“You gain a lot of gratitude for what we do have here, and I think you learn you can be happy without a lot of things,” she said. “As long as you have other people around you, you can still be happy. I like being around people. I like people and I talk to them all the time, even in the middle of a race, which is not good, but you find joy in every moment, even if it is a painful race or workout.”
Wyatt has watched Lund’s career develop. He’s enjoyed the successes and he’s seen the difficulties.
Leading the Way at Maple Mountain
“Britney is our most talented cross country runner that we’ve ever had here at Maple Mountain,” Wyatt said. “She was an all-state runner freshman, sophomore and junior year in cross country and then she got injured this year and it was a bit of a struggle for her. Prior to this year, the worst she’s done at the state cross country meet is fifth, which is incredible here in the state of Utah, which is a distance-heavy state.”
While the wins were always the goal and clearly brought the happiness, he can appreciate what she learned when things didn’t go exactly as planned.
“(The struggles) have made her a better person,” Wyatt said. “They have given her perspective. They’ve made her treasure the moments that she’s had. They’ve also made her very sympathetic and very empathetic to others in what she’s done. She’s really helped a lot of the younger runners, not just on our team, but on other teams as well.”
It’s that last point, the role she plays as a leader, that impresses her coach the most. He is excited that she will be running collegiately at Brigham Young University beginning next year.
“She really is the life of our team for these young ladies, she’s been kind of that mother hen that’s helped the younger runners come along, and then, she made a choice that junior year that ‘I can be really good at this,’ and she stepped it up and worked hard from that point on,” Wyatt said. “To get that scholarship at BYU was a huge deal for her and she’s going to be missed a lot by a lot of the kids here on this team, and the coaches as well.”
Lund dabbled in other sports, particularly soccer, but she says she has always been a runner. Since that was her best skill on the soccer field, it makes sense that it became her biggest passion long-term.
“I did 5Ks when I was little, but…I played soccer and then I quit soccer my freshman year,” she said. “I did not like soccer, it was a chore. I liked running, that’s why I was good at soccer, I could chase people down, but I couldn’t kick the ball.”
A Distance Runner
Lund’s sister is also a runner, but while Britney likes the challenge of the distance events, Baylee is more into the shorter distances. Britney believes she gets stronger as she goes.
“I feel like I gain speed over time in races,” Britney said. “Sprinters, they’re just fast. I go out and gradually get my speed, and I like the mental part of it. As hard as it is, I like just being able to think a lot when I run. I like the mile, in track. I like cross country. I love all of it.
“(At BYU) They want me to do steeple(chase), but we’ll see. I think they have everybody try it.
Lund enjoys being part of the chase and she feels her greatest strength lies in her consistency.
“It’s just kind of about the competition,” Lund said. “My mind is just kind of going. There’s people around me and I’m deciding if I need to speed up or if I’m comfortable. I kind of zone out every once in a while and just run, so that’s nice. I think just pushing through the entire thing, not slowing down at the end or the beginning, just being really consistent.”
Perhaps her high school running experience wasn’t always easy for Britney Lund, but it was those ups and downs along with her ability to find joy not only in her own success, but in the success of everyone around her, that made her time at Maple Mountain special. Now, that steady approach has Lund as prepared as anyone to take her skills to the next level. She’s ready for whatever comes next.