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WSU runner Wammetsberger goes the distance in his final run in Pullman

Jul 1, 2022

Felix Wammetsberger has made a name for himself as a long-distance track and field athlete at Washington State University, but his journey from Southern Germany to Eastern Washington has shaped him into the man he is today.

"It was nerve-inducing at first, I have to be honest. I certainly did not know where Pullman was!" Wammetsberger said.

Wammetsberger is a graduate student-athlete at WSU, performing double duty on the cross country and track and field squads. Wammetsberger runs the 5000m race, by far the most grueling of the track events. He said it's something he was born to do.

"As a child my parents always used to chase me around the house, and once I was age 7, they could never catch me. It was something I was very proud of." he said, letting out a boisterous belly laugh. "Once that translated to winning races against classmates on my schoolyard, I figured this was what I wanted to do with my life."

Wammetsberger, the 26 year-old from Karlsruhe, Germany, quickly rose through the ranks of his secondary school, using his lanky athletic frame to make aggressive strides on the track. His experience on all sorts of running material contributes to his balanced approach, he said.

"I feel lucky to have run on many dirt courses. There were always many forests near to my home, with many trails to help me use all the muscles in my legs, and adjust to uneven levels of the trails," he said. He has also spent significant time running on clay, turf, grass, rubber and even sand. "I've done it all, bro."

If it weren't for the support of his parents back home, he said he never would have mustered the courage to come to the United States and enroll at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, to pursue his passion.

"Even at my hardest times, my mother and father both pushed me to believe in myself, to do what I wanted to do. Mother always told me, in English, how you say, 'Follow your own footsteps.' This was very close to me because I knew what she meant, even though she kind of sounded crazy before I knew what I was capable of," he said.

And capable, he is. Wammetsberger has placed in the top 200 in the world ranking in the 1500m, according to worldathletics.org, and has multiple top-5 finishes in esteemed competitions in the United States, as well as in his home country. Although his finishes since coming to WSU haven't lived up to his own expectations, he said he will continue to work hard to refine his skills, and hopefully compete for his country in more international meets.

However, the story of Felix Wammetsberger is not one of a runner who bases his successes on times and placements. The fun he has during competitions, messing with his teammates and flashing his transcendent smile through a stoic persona, make it clear that he is just as passionate as he is grateful for where his life has taken him.

"When I run, I get to ignore any negative feelings I have," he said. "I just focus on my breathing, feel my legs moving beneath me, and it's like nothing else in the world matters. Getting to do it with my brothers and sisters on the team is, like, the cherry on top."

The beauty of sport is that those who participate get to live in that world exclusively for a bit of time. Wammetsberger knows this well, and hearing him gush about long-distance running is endearing.

Felix Wammetsberger's time in Pullman has been short but sweet. He completed his bachelor's degree in social sciences this spring. With a wide open future, the smart, charismatic and overtly-talented young man plans to return home this summer, and will continue training and looking for his next opportunity.

His last mission in Pullman?

"I'll grab a big bacon cheeseburger from Cougar Country, man. I'll miss those."