Feb. 18, 2014
By Ben Brockman ’16
Fewer than 2,000 people have been able to break the four-minute mile barrier since Roger Bannister first did it in 1954.
A fifth-year senior middle distance runner from Fort Erie, Ontario, Jeremy Rae, has now broken that mark three times at the Meyo Invitational – most recently Feb. 8 to capture the 2013 Meyo Mile crown and the new school mile record with a time of 3:57.25.
While this feat is inspiring and Rae’s accomplishments at the Meyo Invitational are hard to match, he is not ready to rest on his laurels.
“There are still much more important meets. There is still the ACC Championship and the NCAAs, which are the next two big ones for me,” Rae says. “I want to win at conference for sure, and I would like to try and win a national championship in the mile.”
Rae clearly looks to build on his already impressive career. Aside from the Notre Dame mile record, Rae also holds the records for outdoor 1500-meter record and the distance medley – along with teammates Johnathan Shawel, Randall Babb and Chris Giesting.
Rae and the 2012 medley team also won the university’s first indoor relay title that year, securing a national championship in the race that consists of 1200-, 400-, 800- and 1600-meter legs.
“I think a favorite racing memory would be wining nationals in the distance medley relay two winters ago,” Rae recalls. “That was definitely the most memorable race I have ever had in my career.”
While the Notre Dame coaching staff must be pleased with the success that Rae has had at Notre Dame, many college coaches missed out on the opportunity to bring him into their programs coming out of high school. Rae says that running in Canada made it a lot harder for him to get exposure in the United States.
“People are not looking at Canadian results, so I basically had to sell myself,” he says. “I called a lot of college coaches, and a lot of coaches just weren’t interested.”
Lucky for the Irish, the Notre Dame coaching staff thought Rae would be a valuable addition to the team.
“Coach Piane took an interest and brought me here on a visit, and I really liked the guys on the team,” Rae says. “I loved campus. I came on a super cold weekend with a lot of snow, but I figured if I liked it when it was that cold and that snowy, I would like it when it was nicer out.”
Since coming to Notre Dame in 2009, Rae, a former student in the political science department, has also seen success in the classroom. Last season, Rae was named a BIG EAST Academic All-Star.
Much of Rae’s success, both in the classroom and on the track, stems from his dedication and commitment to being a student-athlete. Rae participates in cross-country in the fall, indoor track in the winter and outdoor track in the spring.
The tough training regiment that comes with his various athletics along with a rigorous Notre Dame course load could exhaust even the most dedicated athletes, so Rae knows when it is time to take a break.
“We run so much, but then we get two weeks off between each season. I really take advantage of those two weeks, and I don’t even think about running,” he explains. “I feel pretty rested after two weeks, and I am ready to get back into training.”
Rae hopes to transition this work ethic into future success in the track world. Barely missing the cut in 2012 to run for the Canadian national team at the Olympics in Beijing, Rae will look to stick with the sport and go for another Olympic run in 2016.
“In 2012 I was probably two or three seconds from qualifying in the 1500 event. Basically I just need to improve another few seconds by 2016 then I should be in the Olympics,” he says. “If I do not make the Olympics, then I will stop, but if I do make it, then it is a decision that I will have to make if I am going to keep going.”
For the moment though, Rae is trying to keep everything in perspective in order to achieve his long-term goals.
“It is just a matter of staying healthy,” he explains. “I have little goals along the way that will lead me into the Olympics.”
While Rae may be most remembered for his success on the track, he says that the thing that he will remember the most about his time at Notre Dame are his teammates and friends.
“We always get team dinners together, our guys team and our girls team, and we will sit in the dining hall for hours after meals just talking about everything,” Rae says. “That is something that I will look back on for sure and cherish.”