Ashland’s Own to Race for America
Connor Cushman, Staff Writer
“The ups will excite you, but coming back from the downs is what inspires others.”
The motorcycle riding Southern Oregon alumnus left his mark in Ashland when in 2010 he lead the cross country team to their first national championship in program history.
Now 26, his running has manifested him into a ferocious global runner taking on some of the toughest and longest trails in the ultra-marathon community. The Nike Trail Elite runner is gearing up to represent the United States on May 30th when he races the World Trail Championships in Annecy-le-vieux, France.
2015 is the inaugural year for the World Trail Championships, and the course has recently been set for 83 kilometers (51 miles) in the French countryside.
When asked how he feels about representing the United States in competition, Laney whispers an ecstatic, “Oh, real good.”
As of the 2014-2015 season Laney has truly been “killin’ it,” qualifying for the US Olympic trials at the California International Marathon, running a 2:17 and finishing tenth in the field. As for the trail scene, Laney has established himself as a top dog, winning the Chuckanut 50k as well as the Bandera 100k, which doubled as the US trail championship.
“I like to think about all the dollar bills I’m making when I’m running. It’s like every step is a couple of smackaroos when you’re killin’ it the way I am.”
Thinking about money is as close to having it as he’s going to get right now. Trail running is a sport that still is young in its commercial sponsorship. Though big names like Nike and Brooks have joined the scene, their team athletes make considerably less than most others like LeBron James who signed a 7 year 90 million dollar contract with Nike. It’s hardly enough to even keep the lights on. David is trying to live on race winnings to deal with the reality of not making rent if he doesn’t collect the prize purse which can range from 1,000 to 10,ooo dollars.
Because of logging so many hours a week training, it’s near-impossible for Laney to work full time. To make ends meet, he is a valet in Medford. Also, he has begun his own business of hand-burning custom wood medals for trail races he’s not competing in. His notoriety and connections in the running world have made this work for him but not so much that he can afford much luxury in fact he sleeps four people in an apartment to stay up on bills.
Still, David Laney’s a great runner. The man was made to run on trails, and it wouldn’t take another trail runner to figure that out. His slender frame can often be seen moving up and down Siskiyou boulevard smiling at passerby’s, but one has to wonder why he cheerfully does it?
The pay isn’t great, he’s often sore as hell, and then there’s the whole running 100 miles per week thing. The dedication and love of running have transformed from a hobby to a way of life for David.
“When I was 16 I decided I wanted to run fast and now that’s what I’m doing…It’s weird how what you set your mind to when you’re younger dictates what you’re going to do later.”
The opportunity to represent America is a huge honor to David. In his latest blog post, the racer says that as a Central Catholic ram he was inspired when he received a Team USA jacket from former teammate and American olympian, Galen Rupp. David’s own path to becoming a representative athlete of America would be full of injuries and setbacks, but as Laney says, “The ups will excite you, but coming back from the downs is what inspires others.”