Meet Jacob Burcham

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West Virginia’s 4:02 High Schooler Wants To Go Sub-4 This Spring

February 26, 2013
By LetsRun.com

Joel Wolpert has produced a short-film (less than 10 minutes) on Jacob Burcham, the fastest high-school miler in West Virginia history, for Running Times magazine.

The question as to whether Burcham, who ran 4:02.73 for the mile in 2012 as a junior, can become just the 5th US citizen to break 4-minutes in the mile as a high schooler will be one of the big story-lines of the 2013 high school season.

We thought you’d like to learn more about him by watching the short-film which is well-produced and embedded at the bottom of this story. If you don’t have time to watch the video, we think the most newsworthy part of the video for LetsRun visitors is that video clearly shows that Burcham is not someone obsessed with running.

picture of Jacob Burcham

Jacob Burcham

In the film, which shows scenes of Burcham practicing archery and driving fast in his car, when asked if he felt forced to be a runner because he was so good at it, Burcham was very honest in his answer:

“I felt that (I was forced to do it) before. I didn’t start distance running to be a distance runner. I started actually as a sprinter to train for football. That’s the sport I love and the one I grew up. All of my friends at school play football. I used to think of myself as a football player all of the time. I still kind of do in my head but I know that in reality it’s not going to pay for college – running is – so that’s what I do now.

I don’t really love running as much as someone would think. I’m using running to get to a college and hopefully get some endorsements – that way I can do what I like. Some of my hobbies that I want to do cost a lot of money. I’m just using running as a tool so that I can buy an expensive car – or whatever – material stuff – just for fun. I think it’s worth it and getting a nice college degree from a D1 school – whereas if I wasn’t running there’s no way I could go.”

His coach, Chris Parsons, who was a sub-15, 30+ guy back in the day said the following about Burcham’s passion – or lack thereof – for running:

“If I was in his shoes right now, I probably wouldn’t think of anything else but (running) but that’s just not the way he is – which is not a bad thing – it’s not a bad thing. It’s working for him right now.

I don’t shove it down his throat or anything, but we talked about. I said, “If I could give you a little bit of that passion, man, the sky’s the limit for you.” So that is Jacob Burcham in a nut-shell.”

As for whether Burcham is going to break-4 this year, it’s clear that based on his progression over the last 5 seasons, that he should be in the hunt.

Jacob Burcham’s Seasonal Best Times Since 7th Grade
(According to his coach in the interview)
7th grade: 4:59
8th grade: 4:33
9th grade: 4:14
10th grade: 4:07 (LRC note: He also ran 3:46 this year)
11th grade: 4:02
12th grade: ??

However, there’s seemingly no denying he’s a bit behind where he was at this point last year (although we’ll admit we’re not familiar with his recent training so we’re not sure if that’s by design or not). Last year, Burcham ran 4:07.20 indoors at the Brooks PR Invitational and placed second, whereas at this year’s Brooks PR meet he ran just 4:10.93 and placed fifth (in a 4:08 race). Supporting our belief that he is behind where he was last year is the fact that he ran an 800 prior to the 4:10.93 and only ran 1:56.40 (in a 1:53 race).

You can watch Horses + Fire – the short film in HD on Burcham below. You can see the Running Times version here. A youtube parody of the film can be found here.

More: MB: Discussion of this Burcham video
MB:
Jacob Burcham 8:57, 4:08, anyone know how he did in 800 and 4X400 today???
MB: JACOB BURCHAM 8:57 3200 at State Meet
MB: Jacob Burcham 3:46.55 1500 Sophomore American Record!!!
MB: WV sophomore Jacob Burcham 9:11/4:06 double, 800 yet to come

Posted in: High School, Other