A Disciplined Road




This story appeared in the Army Football Gameday program vs. Tulane on Oct. 6, 2007. 

By Jon Holtz

When the Class of 1997 gathers for its 10-year reunion during this weekend’s Homecoming festivities, one face will notably be missing from its ranks. Instead of making the journey back to West Point to spend time with his old track & field teammates, former Black Knight long distance standout Dan Browne will settle for reminiscing on his own while preparing for a 10-mile road race this Sunday morning in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Less than a month away from finishing his quest to qualify for his second-consecutive U.S. Olympic Team, the very discipline that Browne learned during his days as a cadet keep him focused on securing a spot on the team bound for Beijing.   

Browne established himself as one of the greatest runners in Academy history with a career that included becoming the first Army runner to break four minutes in the mile when he ran 3:59.37 against Navy in 1997. His legacy lives on as the school records he set in the 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meters remain unbroken 10 years later.

The 2004 Olympian attributes most of his success to the values he learned from his former coach, Jerry Quiller, who enters his 13th season at Army this fall.

“I renewed my running career when Coach Q came to Army,” says Browne. “He’s such a great guy and knows exactly what it takes to turn someone into a world-class athlete. He had coached [Adam] Goucher and [Alan] Culpepper (members of the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Team) when he was coaching out in Colorado. I just soaked up everything he told me.”

Browne graduated with a dual major in Portuguese and Spanish with a field of study in Systems Engineering. Upon graduation, he attended Officer Basic Course in Fort Lee, Va. before receiving an offer that would change his life forever.

Army’s prestigious World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), which provides selected soldier-athletes the opportunity to continue training on a national and international level while maintaining a professional military career, invited Browne to join. At the time, wrestling was the major focus of the program with the majority of athletes entered in the WCAP being strength athletes. Browne accepted and became one of only six runners in the program. He moved to Boulder, Colo. to train and serve his active duty as a member of the Colorado National Guard.

After spending four years with the program from 1998-2002, Browne again received an offer that was too good to pass up. He was approached by legendary distance coach and marathon champion, Alberto Salazar, about joining a team of elite runners Nike was looking to sponsor. The team, now known as the Nike Oregon Project, has since produced some of the best distance runners the country has ever seen. 

Browne jumped at the opportunity to return to his home state and train under Salazar. Two years after joining the project, he qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team in both the 10,000-meter run and the marathon for the 2004 Athens Games. 

In Greece, Browne was the top American finisher in the 10,000 meters, crossing the finish line in 12th place. However, nine days later in the sweltering heat, he struggled to a disappointing 65th place finish in the marathon while fellow American Meb Keflezighi took home the silver medal.

The memory of the 2004 Games now drives Brown to train even harder for 2008. 

Soon after Athens, he left Oregon to train with Keflezighi and his world-renowned coach, Bob Larsen, along with another one of the country’s elite distance runners, Ryan Hall. They have all been living 8,000 feet above sea level in Mammoth Lakes, California and training for the entire preparatory season leading up to the U.S. Olympic Trials on November 3. 

“We’re working together so well right now,” says Browne. “We all realize how tough it is going to be to make this year’s team and it’s just fitting that we are working together like this.”

Browne is wrapping up his final preparations for the trials in impressive fashion. He won the 2007 U.S. 20k Road Championship in New Haven, Conn. on September 3rd and then won the U.S. 5k Road Championship on September 16th in Providence, R.I. His final tune-up for the Olympic Trials is the Medtronic 10-Miler tomorrow morning in Minneapolis.

When he is not training in California, Browne lives in Beaverton, Oregon with his wife Cristan, a second-grade teacher, and their two dogs Cha Cha and Lexi. He currently serves as an officer in the Oregon National Guard.

“Racing the marathon is a lot like graduating from West Point,” said Browne. “At The Point, there are times that go well and other times that are tough and the marathon can be just like that. The whole key is not to give up. I learned at West Point, when you give up, you can never accomplish your dreams. That’s the bottom line.

“West Point also taught me a lot about who I was as an athlete and as a person. It is a very unique place in that it develops the discipline it takes to become a leader and a world-class distance runner. The similarities are obvious when you look at them. I live a very disciplined life. I train twice a day and spend the rest of the time working on the little things I can do to get better everyday. I learned that discipline from West Point.”

The Olympic Trials will take place right down the road as part of the 2007 New York City Marathon weekend. Browne hopes to make a visit to West Point after the race to meet with current members of the Army track and field teams and to thank Quiller in person for helping him get to where he is today.

Jon Holtz is an Athletic Communications Assistant at West Point.

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