ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —
UNM’s Bishop one of the top 1,500 runners in the country
David Bishop is fast, and it’s a good quality for him to have since he’s often running late.
The University of New Mexico senior enjoys a game of poker and is mindful of the mix of skill and luck required.
His imagination draws him to films like “Star Wars” and “The Lord of the Rings.”
He comes from England, the land of Roger Bannister, and can appreciate the magic of the mile.
And so it ultimately makes sense that he is one of the better 1,500-meter runners in the country.
The 1,500 requires the necessary blend of speed, strength, fortune and creativity and Bishop’s talents in those areas will be on display this week at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
He exhibited his skills when he ran third in the ultra-competitive NCAA regionals in Eugene, Ore., last month.
“The 1,500 meters is kind of a tricky event,” he says. “You can be the fastest runner there, but a lot of times the championship races are really, really slow with a big finish, a very fast finish.”
In anticipation of that, Bishop and UNM track coach Joe Franklin devised a training program featuring a lot of speed.
“I raced quite a lot of 800s this year,” Bishop says. “My track sessions have involved a lot of speed. So I was pretty confident (going to the regionals). If it was fast, I would be up at the front anyway. And if it was slow, I’d done the work.”
It so happened that the regional race was neither.
“It wasn’t a fast race,” Bishop says, “but we weren’t jogging, either. Both factors played a part. My strength kicked in.”
He was in third place for much of the race and finished third, with a time of 3:44.69, a couple of seconds behind winner Matthew Centrowitz of Oregon and a fraction of a second behind second-place A.J. Acosta, also of Oregon.
“I was a little bit nervous,” Bishop admits, “because anything can happen. But, yeah, luckily, I’d done the work, nothing went wrong, and I qualified.”
So it’s off to Des Moines. The 1,500 semifinals will be Thursday, with the finals scheduled for Saturday.
“There’s 24 guys there,” Bishop says, “and I think there’s a handful of guys – and I include myself in there – who should make the final. I think in the final, one of all 12 could win it. I do think I can win it.
“But I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t make the finals. When the gun goes off, see what happens. I have to make sure I race smart and give myself a shot.”
“He’s going to have to have the stars aligned to have a chance,” Franklin says. “But everybody has a chance, especially in that race. In that event, they tend to jog around for the first 600 meters, then sprint.”
Bishop started running in school as a kid in England.
“I ran a cross country race as an 11-year-old,” Bishop says, “and won. I thought, ‘I’m pretty good at this,’ and kept up from there.”
The track club scene is big in Europe, and Bishop worked his way through the ranks. He was about 13 when one of the older guys he was training with got an offer to run at Butler University for a coach named Joe Franklin.
A few years later, when Bishop won the British University indoor 3,000-meter title while running for Wales University, Franklin emailed.
“I was always aware you could go to America if you were a decent runner,” says Bishop, who is getting a masters in sports administraion.
He had a few other colleges looking at him, but he knew Franklin “had dealt with English people before” and was aware of Lobo Lee Emanuel, an NCAA champion, also from England.
“Actually, I liked it straightaway,” Bishop says of New Mexico. “I got on with the whole team, the altitude training. I adapted pretty well.”
At the 2010 NCAA cross country meet, Bishop ran 100 places higher than he had the year before. During the 2011 indoor season, he ran the second-fastest anchor leg in the distance medley relay and earned All-American status.
“He’s a good kid,” Franklin says. “Hysterical. Really funny. … We’re going to miss him. He’s been a very unique aspect of our team.”
After the NCAA outdoor meet, Bishop will return to England and re-introduce himself to the track club scene. And conduct a little unfinished business.
The mile brought England some fame when Banister, in 1954, became the first man to run a sub-four minute mile.
“Considering the Brit’s Roger Banister was the first guy to go sub-four, it’s not run that much back home,” Bishop says. “The first time I ran a mile was actually the 50th anniversary of Banister’s race. I don’t think I ran one again until I came to America.”
Running a sub-four-minute mile is still a big deal, he says, which is why it bothers him that his best mile is 4:00.3. His 1,500 equivalent time indicates it won’t be much of a barrier. There’s a big mile race this summer in Britain, then it’s off to China for the World Student Games.
His biggest challenge may be in getting to the races on time.
“I tend to be quite late sometimes,” Bishop says.
“He definitely goes to the beat of his own drummer,” Franklin says.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal
Capsule – Ten Lobos will compete in the NCAA Track & Field Championships this week in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo Credit – adolphe pieree-louis/journal
Cutline – New Mexico senior David Bishop will be competing in the NCAA track championships this week where he will race in the 1,500 meters.