Connor Crowe is fast. His best 800-meter time is just 11.7 seconds behind two-time Olympic champion David Rudisha.
But for the recreation, parks and tourism administration junior, many of the experiences he had during his time at Cal Poly took place off campus in Morro Bay.
This past fall, Crowe became a reserve firefighter for the Morro Bay Fire Department and needed to find a place to live within close proximity to the station. Instead of subleasing an apartment, he found “New Marimar,” a 27-foot sailboat he now calls home.
Learning how to balance his life of learning how to live on the boat while still being a college student is similar to his race on the track team.
Crowe said living on a boat is an independent experience, similar to his races.
The 800-meter race is two laps. Though it sounds simple, Crowe admits it is harder than most races.
“It’s basically like a long sprint,” Crowe said. “A lot of people say it’s the hardest race because it’s not a sprint and it’s not a long distance event, so you just kinda gotta go for it.”
Speed and form are Crowe’s two biggest focuses right now, but it is the last few steps of the race that really matter.
“During the last 100 meters of a race, I need to have the right stride and be relaxed,” he said. “I tend to tense up like everyone does.”
Just as many athletes have their pre-game rituals, Crowe has superstitions of his own.
First he wears a necklace given to by his grandfather — a small gold chain with a track spike that hangs in the center. His grandfather was also a runner, and that inspires Crowe to wear it in every race possible.
“One time in high school, I was warming up for a race and [the necklace] broke off,” Crowe said. “I got caught in a fence and then I ran really bad.”
The second of his rituals is his warm-up song. Before every race, Crowe listens to “Nightlight” by Silversun Pickups to pump him up for his sub-two minute run.
Another influence that has improved Crowe’s performance is his assistant coach, Priscilla Bayley.
“He’s kind of like that person that is always looking out for other people,” Bayley said. “As a competitor, he will just bleed on the track. He will push himself beyond the point that most people would.”
Mark Conover, the head coach for both Cal Poly’s track and cross-country teams, gives Crowe workouts and a practice plan every day. However, what Bayley gives Crowe is what any athlete needs: support.
“There are different types of athletes,” Bayley said. “I don’t always know what kind of shape [Crowe is] gonna be in, but I know that when it’s race day, he’ll give it everything he has, and that alone makes him a phenomenal athlete. He’s great at following race plans, he will hurt like nobody else. That’s always reassuring as a coach because you have a lot of confidence and trust in what he’s gonna do.”
While the phrase “practice makes perfect” seems fitting for Crowe, he even admitted that is not always true.
“It’s fun competing, but practicing … a lot of people are like, ‘Running is so sucky,’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, it kinda does suck,’ but competing is the fun part,” Crowe said. “That’s where I get the fun, being aggressive in a race and competing, the eight times I do in a year.”