Some history on NAU Coach Mike Smith:
...Also on the line is the future at NAU of world-acclaimed running coach Jack Daniels, who is head coach for the team and, since 2005, the long-distance running coach for the Center for High Altitude Training.
Altius is derived from the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius, which translates more commonly in English to Swifter, Higher, Stronger. The choice of "higher" came from Flagstaff's relatively high elevation — 7,000 feet.
Mike Smith, the assistant coach for Team Altius, who also just lost his coaching and program coordinating position at the center, addressed members before their workout.
"The university is facing a tremendous budget deficit," Smith said. "Our option was originally to hold out. We were told we were a protected location. The closing of the center leaves us in a bind for the 10,000 different things that we do there."
He said he lost his job at HATC the same day the closing was announced.
"The office that runs this running club is not going to exist anymore," Smith said. "There are a lot of people in town who are upset about it. It happened so suddenly."
...Rob Krar was a 1500m runner at Butler University, while Mike Smith was a 5,000m/10,000m runner at Georgetown. Both took time off from competitive running after college and dabbled in road running but revived their competitive fire last fall when they decided to train for the TransRockies race. Krar, 32, has one marathon (2007 Boston Marathon, 2:25:44), while Smith, 29, who ran in the 2008 U.S. Olympic trials marathon but did not finish, owns a 2:19 marathon PR.
Both Krar, who works as a pharmacist, and Smith, who waits tables, run for (Jack Daniels coached) Team Altius sub-elite program based in Flagstaff, Ariz.
...For Coach Smith, who served as an assistant last year under Eric Heins, the team execution was perfect. With all the hype of tight battles against BYU and the pressure of defending their title, NAU kept composed when it mattered most.
“We just did it. It’s just work, it’s just training, it’s real. It’s real stuff. The talk isn’t real. This is real. Just give it to those guys. They just kept their heads. They kept a lot of emotional control. That’s the name of the game,” said Smith. “That’s what did it for us; a lot of discipline of the mind… If you watch enough cycling you know that in conditions like this, it’s going to be really hard to bridge that gap. When we noticed the gap, we smelled blood. You have to apply pressure. I joked with them over the days, whenever you don’t know what to do. Answer? Gas.”