Colorado Alums Rally to Defense of Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs
By Robert Johnson
February 2, 2023
Today 44 ex-University of Colorado runners have publicly come to the defense of Colorado track and field and cross country coaches Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs, who are currently subject to an “independent, comprehensive fact-finding inquiry” by the university after a former walk-on complained the team culture was “toxic” and led to many eating disorders.
You can read more about Katie Intile‘s allegations in this Runner’s World article which says she “collected, by phone or in writing, her own experiences and those of 13 of her former teammates.”
The 44 ex-CU runners all signed a document that explained they were coming “together collectively to voice our support and positive experiences at the University of Colorado.” Most, if not all, of the 44 did more than just sign the document saying they supported their ex-coaches. Thirty-five of them also gave detailed statements talking about their positive experiences on the team in the document, which was released on the internet. Others issued their own statements elsewhere like 2005 NCAA indoor 3000 champ Renee Metivier, who made her own powerful statement on Instagram. Metivier’s statement read in part:
Many were not aware (esp on this list & more) that an investigation was happening. We are here to share our positive experiences to make sure the full story is told.
I transferred to Colorado after a truly abusive situation. I KNOW the difference and what good coaching can do. Coach Wetmore and the program saved my love of running.
Here are a few of my experiences:
I distinctly remember talking with Mark after I won pre-nationals about making sure I was staying smart and taking care of the little things as I was set up to challenge for the NCAA title. As the toxic global culture in general of my youth had women thinking smaller is better, I replied “I guess I could lose a few pounds,” and he immediately responded and corrected me, “NO! Don’t do that. That is NOT what I meant. I meant be healthy and rest, sleep 8+ hours, drink water, and eat a lot of good foods – not to lose weight.” I was glad I asked bc I misconstrued what was being said bc society has always told women (all runners) that. Coach Mark never conveyed that to me, and in fact, he helped me not go down that negative path.
Another example is when I had just transferred and hadn’t run in a year. I was out of shape and had gained weight. Based on my previous performances, I was placed in the top group for the 1st workout. I was unable to keep up. Coach Wetmore pulled me aside. I assumed he was going to yell and be negative bc that was my experience at my first college. But what he said changed my life. He said, “Don’t worry. I’m not worried. Talent never leaves. We will get you back.” And I preceded to become a NCAA champion.
The 44 ex-Colorado runners signing the document include most of the biggest distance stars during the Wetmore-Burroughs era at CU. Twelve of the 14 NCAA distance champions coached by Wetmore signed on: Jorge Torres, Dathan Ritzenhein, Adam Goucher, Jodie Hughes, Sara (Gorton) Slattery, Renee Metivier, Jenny Barringer, Emma Coburn, Dani Jones, Kara Goucher, Shalaya Kipp, and Sage Hurta-Klecker (Alan Culpepper and Micaela DeGenero don’t appear on the document).
You can read the full statement below.
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