Two-time US steeplechase champion Evan Jager is among the world’s best. SPIKES finds out how, as a teenager, he won the ultimate race against his dad.
“I was aged about 12 at the time and my dad, Joel, took me down a dirt road near where he grew up in Michigan. He knew it was half a mile to the end of the dirt road, so he challenged me to run a mile.
“I think I ran it in about 6:15 or 6:30, and then he said: ‘okay, I’ll buy you a Mustang if you can run a mile under five minutes’.
“He really liked cars and I think he wanted me to share his passion for them, by buying a fun, muscle car. He also loved watching me run as a kid, so I think he liked the fact that anything which would act as extra motivation for me to work hard, was a good thing. It was a fun side-bet.”
Jager leads the US Olympic trials in 2012.
“I was in eighth grade [aged 14], when I ran my first sub-five minute time. He bought me a 1989 – the year of my birth – white Ford Mustang 5.0. It cost $3000. I thought it was the coolest thing.
“I was probably the only eighth grade freshman to have a car like it, even though I was still two years away from being able to drive it.”
Teenage dream: Not bad for a 14-year-old without a licence.
“It was difficult when I first got to drive it. It was a manual car and I was only just learning to drive [gear] sticks, but after a few times behind the wheel I got used to it and it felt really cool.
“I still have the car. It is back at my dad’s house in Illinois. It needs continuous work doing to it, so it is not really reliable for me to have it here in Oregon [where he trains].
“I usually drive it when I’m home. It is a good feeling every time because it reminds me of my childhood. I’m definitely glad I still have it, for sure.”