The Stride Report will be running a series of articles consisting of interviews and op-eds from athletes across the nation. Our aim is to bring you a variety of perspectives from multiple collegiates in the running community who have been impacted by the recent competition cancellations.
Allie Ludge (Grand Valley State) has been one of the best distance runners in D2 over the past few seasons and was the #2 runner in TSR’s Top 25 rankings. Ludge was supposed to triple in the mile, 3000 meters and DMR (mile leg) at the D2 Indoor National Championships. She was the top seed in the 3000 meters and #2 seed in both the mile and DMR.
We reached out to Allie regarding the cancellation of the national meet and talked to her about what her future holds. A huge thanks to Allie for being open to sharing her experience and feelings from the past few days.
The Stride Report: What have the past few days been like for you & your team?
Allie Ludge: The week leading up to Nationals had a lot of excitement. We arrived Tuesday night and went to practice at the venue both on Wednesday and Thursday. We were first bummed when they announced only family was allowed [to spectate] because we had teammates and alumni driving down to watch. On Thursday morning, we were told no family was allowed.
At that point, my parents only had one hour left of their 12 hour drive to come watch. That was very hard to hear, but we were so grateful that they were not cancelling the meet and tried to focus on the weekend ahead of us. We knew that Grand Valley had the most athletes at the meet and knew we just needed to lean on each other and support one another more than ever. We tried to just continue to focus on the competition ahead and not worry about scratches or outside scenarios that were out of our control.
We had just finished our pre-meet when we found out about the meet/season cancellation. It was definitely heart breaking and I think we were all in a state of shock.
None of it felt real and there were so many questions. I think many of us are still in shock and are going through waves of emotion. I have missed out on seasons in the past due to injury or illness, but this definitely hits differently.
I think a lot of us were blindsided and feel our seasons or careers were taken from us and not on our own terms. It is definitely a hard pill to swallow. We have all worked so hard and we knew that Grand Valley not only had a goal to take home the championship, but we had the pieces to make it happen if we could put everything together on the day. That’s always the dream, it’s the moment you work for.
However, that moment is not the end-all be-all and being able to be surrounded by teammates is a great reminder of what this is all really about. I think this will overall be a reminder to all of us to take advantage of every opportunity we get as student athletes, on and off the track, because it can be gone in a blink of an eye.
TSR: What were your goals for outdoor season?
Allie: Going into the outdoor season, I feel I have strung together two solid years of healthy training and truly feel in my best shape. I know many are having the same feelings that I am and are heart broken we will not have the opportunity to show off all the hard work we’ve put in. I didn’t think too much into specific goals besides truly enjoying every second with my team and running as fast as I can and finishing as high as possible for them.
Every runner dreams of that moment where all the years of training accumulate into the perfect race and you get to celebrate all the work you’ve put in. I think many of us felt we were right there reaching for that moment and now it’s gone without a chance. I am so grateful for my school, team, and coaches. That is what makes all the hard work worth it, even when things don’t end the way you expected them to.
TSR: What are your plans now and what’s your mindset for this spring? Will your team hold organized practices?
Allie: We will not have organized practices this spring and I think we are all in a standstill for now. We are definitely leaning on each other. Our coaches and teammates have shown great support for one another as we are navigating what comes next. I personally have had a very busy semester of working 35+ hours a week, being a full-time student, a full-time athlete, and coming home to my dog and husband at the end of the day. I am going to try to take some time to take care of myself and those around me. Our team is truly a family so I will definitely be in contact with my girls these next few months even if it is over the phone!
If Division Two follows Division One and gives athletes another outdoor season, will you return next year?*
Next year truly is undecided for me at this point. I would definitely love to finish my career on my own terms, and I love this team more than anything and cannot imagine leaving them like this. However, I was also ready to embrace the next stage of life after outdoor. I am waiting to make any decisions until the initial shock and emotions calm down.
*Note: Division Two has since announced that they will allow for additional eligibility