Coach Mark Wetmore has tutored 46 individual conference champions and nine individuals who have combined for 16 NCAA titles. He has coached 70 individuals to 212 All-American selections. Wetmore has produced 26 conference championship teams, most recently capturing the 2008 Big 12 Menís Outdoor Track and Field Championship at CUís Potts Field in May. Coach Wetmore, thank you for joining the RunColo Interview Series. Can you please tell us about yourself, your life as a runner and your success as coach of track and field and cross country at the University of Colorado?
I was not a notable runner in high school, but was the Captain of a championship team. I think I was appointed captain by the coach, as I doubt I would have been elected by the team. I tried to run competitively in college, but was a commuter, and worked full-time as well, so was basically doomed ahead of time, and ran like it. There are many advantages to coaching in Boulder and at C.U., so I have been lucky to get credit for some of the successes here. ďRunning with the BuffaloesĒ brought a ton of national attention to the CU program. The book was a huge success and one of the most well-loved running novels out there. You were incredibly transparent in allowing an outsider into the program like that and showing them how CU trained. The training then has been widely discussed on websites such as LetsRun.com. Some of this discussion has been critical of the training methods, volume, etc. Looking back then, do you have any regrets about the decision to allow an author to follow the team for a season? How has that book changed the program?
I have no regrets. A lot of time has passed now since the book was written, so we really only get a small amount of interest related to the book. There have been some big-time recruits the past few years coming out of high school, some even coming out of Colorado. I think it's obvious that Oregon has the current buzz and popularity and their recruiting is benefiting from that as a result. It seems that your recruiting strategy is not to chase some of these big-time recruits, but instead first let high school runners interested in the program show their genuine interest and then move forward with recruiting. Could you comment on your approach to recruiting then?
The most accomplished recruits will likely be offered very large or full scholarships. It is extremely unlikely that we will have the funds to make that kind of offer. For Footlocker stars, or 4:02 milers, C.U. is usually out of the picture after one email or phone call. In the book it mentioned you had a consecutive day running streak going, is that still streak still active?
I try to fit in a workout daily, but it could only be called "running" in the most liberal application of the term. How does the freshman CC class look for the fall? What is your policy with regards to red shirting, do you let the runners ultimately decide or do you suggest to some of them that it‚Äôs in their best interest?
We have good classes coming in for both women and men. Many of last fall's men red-shirted, so they'll suit up in October. Coach Burroughs and I are excited. We don't have a set policy for red-shirting, but it is a rare male freshman who can get a useful spot on our cross country varsity, so most of them end up waiting. Can you explain the scholarship situation for Division I Schools with regards to track and cross country? Do the men's and women's teams have different amounts? Also, I know that the BolderBoulder gives runners the option to make a donation to fund a scholarship, how successful as that been?
That's pretty complicated, but I'll try! There are no scholarships for Cross Country. If a school wants a successful X-C team, they have to spend Track scholarships on those athletes. NCAA Div. I allows member schools to spend up to 12.6 scholarships on male T&F athletes and 18 on females. This is not each year, but on-going, spread over four or five years. With approximately 57 varsity positions on a Track Team, you can see that "full" scholarships are usually impractical.
Not every school can afford the full amount of scholarships and each school decides how to spread them over the event areas. Some schools have no scholarships invested in distance running; some spend them all to have a great X-C team. Almost every school has to sacrifice something. Here, we try to have a complete program with investments in every event area, but we presently don't sponsor a vaulting program.
I believe the BB dollar donations go toward the expense of scholarships, by far the biggest expense of any Athletics Department. Minus outside funding of scholarships, C.U. certainly couldn't afford to fully fund the 12.6 and 18. What is your opinion on college programs who actively recruit runners from other countries instead of helping to grow and develop US runners?
We're well known for keeping our scholarship investments domestic. But I understand if a coach is convinced that, at their school, in their town, with their academic product and coaching ability, it may not be possible to be able to succeed without international athletes. They gotta keep their jobs. Where is your favorite place to take the team? Magnolia Road, Switzerland Trail, Gold Hill, Grange, etc?
I don't have a favorite training venue. All the places you mentioned have their attributes. But I sure am glad that we have many. When we travel to compete, we generally try to fit in a long run the next morning. I'll ask the host coach, "Where can we get in a 90 minute run tomorrow?" and they'll say, "90 minutes... Hmm, Well 90 minutes... Hmm!" "There is this place that some of the guys go sometimes"Ě or "How bout 8 loops of the Such-and Such Trail?"
I like that we can go somewhere different for weeks on end. Lots of programs across the country, particularly in the Midwest it seems, are struggling to maintain funding and scholarships for track and cross country. Most recently, the University of Cincinnati scrapped scholarships for track and cross. The year before Ohio University cut their track team. Have you faced any of these challenges at CU?
It's tough times for everyone right now, but so far we're OK. Football TV appearances pay a big percentage of the bills around here and we got on TV often last year. And I feel good about our new Basketball coach. He'll have them on TV soon as well. I think we'll have to be careful about expenditures, but we'll have Track for a while yet. Does the fact that The University of Colorado does not have a top notch indoor track facility make recruiting or training more difficult? Have there been any discussions on building a new indoor facility with a track?
Yeah, sure. We're not going to attract top-level sprinters, jumpers and hurdlers to the climate of Boulder without a pretty nice indoor facility. I don't think distance runners or throwers care much. When I came here we had regular, enthusiastic meetings and extensive plans for a new indoor facility. That all stopped a few years ago. It's tens of millions of dollars. Who has that laying around these days? Let's say I have an extra 15 minutes per night, three times per week. What is the best use of my time, running two miles, doing 15 minutes of core work, or an alternative?
Fit in an extra three miles! More seriously, nothing beats running. Finally, what are the goals for this upcoming Cross Country season?
We were pretty disappointed with last year's cross country season. We plan to improve on that.