Todd Ford ’16
First things first, what is your athletic history prior to running at the College?
In my freshman year of high school, I played baseball in the spring and had done cross country prior to high school. Toward my sophomore year, I figured I was better at running and had more potential there, so I stuck with it, and that is what carried into college.
Did you have any leadership on your team in high school?
I was a captain in high school. It has been a little bit of a difference here, but the leadership kind of started there.
What was your initial impression of the team going into your freshman year?
It was cool for me because the Williams men’s cross country team was a lot bigger than I had anticipated. There were a lot of guys. Not everyone does it for really competitive reasons but rather to be a part of the social aspect of the team. That was a lot of fun for me. It is a great atmosphere on the team, and I have really enjoyed it pretty much from day one.
What has your relationship with Head Coach Pete Farwell ’73 been like over the years?
Pete is great. He is fairly hands-off, really lets you do your own thing. He makes sure that your training is specifically tailored for you and that you are doing the things that are the most beneficial to your career. He has been very receptive to my ideas and helpful in making me a better runner.
So you have a team where some of the guys are going to go off and compete at NESCACs and a lot of guys are there for more social reasons. What is governing that as captain like?
One of the most important things that we wanted to emphasize was defining success in terms of how you are running for yourself. Success does not necessarily mean that you are getting first place in the race but means you are getting close to your [personal records] or having a better season than the year before. In terms of leading the team, this is great for me. We have a big class of seniors and there are a lot of guys who are leaders and they take the pressure off of Matt [Tarduno ’16], Bijan [Mazaheri ’16] and me. It is really a team atmosphere. It is a fun experience.
What are you most proud of throughout your collegiate running career?
In my freshman year, we broke a 4×800 school record. I was one of the younger guys, and I was on the team with a bunch of upperclassmen. That was pretty fun for me to be a part of that.
What did you learn from those older guys on the team over the years?
I think to make the most of your running experience. Make sure that you are focused during the season and doing what you can to reach your potential and not letting that get squandered away … especially being on the team and not just focusing on the running part but also the social part.
How has running factored into your career at the College as a whole?
The team is definitely a big aspect of my social life here on campus. My best friends are certainly on the team. In terms of how it intertwines with the academic experience here, I would say I think running is the escape from academics. It is a great chance to blow off some steam, hang out with the guys and go for a run. It has been great for me to have that here and I think it has allowed me to perform even better academically in some sense.
Between the cross country season in the fall and the track seasons in the winter and spring, do you ever wish that you could get some kind of off-season?
Yeah. [Laughs.] To some extent, certainly. Especially when things are not going so well running-wise, and you are not running as well as you are capable of. But the fact that I do it is indicative of how I still really enjoy it. We really are all in it together. Everyone who does cross-country also runs track and vice versa, so we really are all in the same boat and having fun with each other.
How do you think running will factor into your life once you head out from the College?
Well I will definitely have the opportunity to run post-collegiately. There are road races and there is always running with friends. This is still, though, my last chance to really run at a competitive level with this group of guys and this team and all of the tradition that it has. It is definitely sad for me to realize that I am going to be moving on soon but it has made me realize that I have to enjoy every aspect of it until then.
Do you have a favorite course on which you have run over the past few years?
That is a good question. Maybe this sounds cliché but I really like our course. We have a meet on it every year. It is not really suited for my style because it is hilly and notoriously slow, but I really love it. It is a great spectator course so it has always been pretty exciting to race.
Since you are a cross country captain, this is an obligatory question. Is there any particular tradition that carries special value for you?
Definitely the bear. Maybe the obvious answer but it is pretty crazy. We just had “bear snacks” before Little Threes where we go through and hear all the stories from the different generations [about the bear] and it makes you think about how everyone before you has had very similar experiences. It is cool to be a part of that. It has been a lot of fun for me.