Barringer Puts NCAA Race Behind, Looks Ahead
BOULDER - For University of Colorado senior Jenny Barringer, November 23, 2009, was supposed to be a storybook ending to one of the most illustrious careers for a CU cross country and track and field athlete.
Barringer was expected by everyone in the running world, as well as media and fans, to win the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championship. It was the one title she had in her sights from the first day on CU's campus in 2005.
Leading the race and fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with Florida State's Susan Kuijken, Barringer looked like she always had to anyone who knew her running style: strong, confident and executing her own plan. Then, in the blink of an eye, Barringer faltered before falling to the ground just after the halfway point.
The Oviedo, Fla., native, was, in her own words, "delirious . . . I just lost my head and didn't feel good and then next thing I knew I was on the ground thinking ?Is this really happening to me? Is this a race?'"
Somehow, Barringer found the strength to finish the race and despite placing 163rd overall, made everyone proud even though she felt it was "slightly embarrassing and very surprising."
In an interview Tuesday morning with Flotrack.com's Ryan Fenton, Barringer said she is OK and not injured in anyway: "I didn't get sick. I'm injury free. I have little aches and pains here and there, but that is to be expected. For the most part I feel really healthy."
But she said the pressure she has been under for the last few months finally overwhelmed her.
Along with running, the weight of pondering a professional career, getting married, trying to graduate from a school she loves and enter law school all "collided in a way that will never happen again," she said. "It's all good stuff, but it's all really stressful stuff.
Barringer agreed that she "put this race on a pedestal," attaching an inordinate amount of importance to it. Before the event, she said for the first time in her career, she found herself saying it would be "so nice (for the race) to be over."
At the 3K point of the race, Barringer said she felt confident. But when the collapse came, "there was absolutely no fighting it . . . no calming or collecting myself."
In typical Barringer fashion, she jokes about "needing to run a turkey trot this week." But she knows that she needs a break after the last four and a half years of non-stop competition.
She will be making an announcement about her future plans when she gets the details worked out, but did say that she has chosen an agent and is looking forward to starting her professional career this spring. That doesn't mean Barringer is going to be a stranger on campus however. This Buff is going to be a volunteer assistant coach "for as long as they will have me."
Barringer is set to graduate in December with a double major in political science and economics and has done that in style. She carries a 3.672 grade point average and is a two-time Academic All-American. And then there is the wedding she is planning to her fianc? later this year.
Despite not winning this one NCAA Championship, Barringer has definitely left her mark at the University of Colorado as well as the NCAA. She set six NCAA records, seven CU records and the American record in the steeplechase, all in 2009. She competed twice at the IAAF World Championships and at the Olympic Games. Barringer is the first female at CU to win four, yes, four NCAA titles (three in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and one in the indoor 3,000-meter run). She was named the Honda Sports Award winner for track and field and was named one of five finalists for the Honda Broderick Cup. The list of awards for this amazing Buff goes on and on and on and she has more than earned a place in every Buff's heart.
"This doesn't take away anything that I have done the last few years," Barringer said. "I've had a really fun and phenomenal year. This season did have a lot of value and I will take that with me.
"It's sad for me because this isn't the perfect storybook ending, but my life isn't a book. It's a life and it's a reality."
(The complete interview with Flotrack is 24 minutes but is worth it.)