Gabriele Anderson representing Perham on the world running stage
Gabriele Anderson was back in Perham on a quick vacation after completing what should be called her “Summer of the Personal Best.”
Anderson set personal best marks in three different races this summer, the 800m, the 1500m - her specialty, and most recently, the 3,000m at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
“Europe is always crazy with travel up in the air,” Anderson said. “It can be stressful but this is my fourth summer of doing a European season.”
The season is now on break awaiting the upcoming World Championships August 10-18 in Moscow. Anderson’s plan was to be in Moscow, but an 11th place finish at the U.S. Championships in Des Moines kept her off the U.S. team. That did not, however, deter Gabe from a successful summer across the Atlantic. So much so, she is headed back for more later in August.
“I’m going back,” she said. “Since I ran fast in the first season, I’ll have good opportunities in the second season. The first race I might run is August 22 in Stockholm.”
She will remain in Europe at least until the Diamond League final in Brussels. The Perham graduate has taken off in professional running and is now a globetrotter in a sport that has far more international flair than it does here in the states.
“It’s a whirlwind. It’s always a different adventure and this year was kind of crazy because I was racing every four or five days.”
Anderson’s stringent race schedule leaves little time to enjoy the sights and scenes of some of Europe’s most sought-after tourist destinations: Paris, Madrid, Monaco. While there are a few moments for such luxuries, Gabe is there to run and running is her job.
“I was in Monaco for a week and Madrid for 5-6 days, but that was the longest I was in any one place.”
Wherever Anderson went in Europe this year, she found continuing success. To put one of her races in perspective, her personal best 1,500m race time of 4:01.48 set in Monte Carlo puts her in elite company in U.S. track and field history. Only 10 other women have recorded better performances.
“I’m starting to get closer to being in the history books.”
Those history books are two seconds away in the 1500-meters.
“It’s always a good sign when you’re getting better. Breaking four minutes, only five other women have done that and I’m within a second and a half from doing it - yeah, that’s putting you in very, very elite company.”
The kind of company that brings Rio de Janeiro and the 2016 Olympics into the conversation.
“When you can start being in the sub-four minute range you are a contender to win an Olympic medal or World medal - that’s what it takes. Getting there, that’s a big deal.”
An Olympic medal is the big goal at the apex of what has been four solid years of continued success for Anderson. Such lofty pursuits and big dreams are close to reality and all of her success is shown in the amount of international notoriety her recent results have produced and with success comes motivation for more.
“For me, I’ll definitely run for 2016 and then I’ll evaluate after that.”
Anderson will turn 30-years-old in 2016.
“That should be me hitting right about my peak. Some people can continue and run really well, especially in the distance events. It’s an individual thing. For me, I just keep getting better every year. If I keep getting better, I’ll definitely keep running.
“Between now and then I’m learning how to train smart, get to a fitness level it takes to run those races. It is not easy to master the 1,500 tactically or strategically, because every race is different. You make decisions while you’re racing and I’m still learning.”
That learning curve has rapidly sped up like the Anderson kick at the end of a race and she portrays the focus that seems to be almost instinctual in high-level athletes, along with an continued appreciation for the chance to do what she loves.
“I enjoy it and I’m doing well. I’m so committed to reaching my potential. I don’t know what that is right now, but as long as I have the opportunity, it’s a gift to be in my position. This is my full-job. I get to see the world and see how good I can be at this.”
Any limits to Anderson’s potential seem to be disappearing for Perham’s most accomplished runner, who has a huge opportunity to continue working toward representing a big dream and a small town on the largest athletic stage on the planet.
What a phenomenal story Gabriele Anderson continues to write.