Jarret LeBlanc To Go For Sub-4:00 Mile At McNeese Track Event
McNeese State alumnus Jarrett LeBlanc, who is a qualifier for the 2016 Olympic Trials, will make a short trip back to his Alma Mater at Lake Charles on May 23.
The Hathaway, La., native now lives in The Woodlands, Texas, where he trains with Team Green Running.
During his Lake Charles visit, he’ll attempt to become the first Louisiana native to break the 4 minute mark for the mile. He’ll also be the first person to run such a mile on Louisiana soil.
LeBlanc came close last year when he went 4:01 during a solo effort in the mile in New Orleans.
Jarrett has confirmed that USATF 1000m Indoor National Qualifier James Gilbreath will help with pacing at the Lake Charles event. Other entrants will be announced.
So far this outdoor season, Jarrett has run personal bests for 800m at 1:50 and 1500m 3:44 — a 4:01 pace.
Jarrett’s May 23 event is sanctioned by USATF and will be timed by Bayou South Timing. Before the Elite Race at 7 pm, there will be other events, such as a Kids’ 1K, high school mile sections, an open section for the general public and a master’s section.
Registration is open at ACTIVE.com. Donations of $5 will be accepted at the gate. All proceeds will go toward the McNeese Track and Field Program and to help LeBlanc with his training for next year’s Olympic Trials. Interested parties can check out the Facebook page “Cowboy Elite Mile.”
‘It Was Just A Fun Atmosphere’
Lagniappe asked LeBlanc how he felt about coming so close to finishing under 4 minutes in the mile in New Orleans last year.
“I was a year out of college [at the time],” says LeBlanc. “I was running on my own.”
He’d just been picked up by the Team Green Running Club. Team Green is an “old school” runners’ training club run by veteran Texas coach Dan Green. The club focuses on training post-graduate runners for competition on both the national and international levels. It’s sponsored by Adidas.
When he made his New Orleans appearance, LeBlanc had been working with his new Team Green coach only two months. The newness of the situation gave LeBlanc a certain degree of freedom and sense of change and novelty. “It was just a fun atmosphere,” he says, when he ran the 4.01 mile in N.O.
The upcoming Lake Charles event will be a bit more serious for LeBlanc.
The 4:01 time of that New Orleans race left LeBlanc wanting more – a run that would break the big 4-minute barrier. The 4.:01 finish “left that empty feeling in me,” he says.
The aftermath of the experience left LeBlanc determined to “put more effort into training.”
‘Treat It As A Normal Day’
When he ran in N.O., he says, “I didn’t have the shape I’m in now. I’m more confident and fit [now].”
LeBlanc probably wouldn’t make such claims if he couldn’t back them up with convincing evidence. In his recent training, he says, “I’m hitting intervals [in which] I’m doing more volume and running them faster.”
He’s confident indeed at this point. “This [Lake Charles run] is a sure shot [at a less-than-4-minute mile] if I just treat it as a normal day.”
LeBlanc is well aware that he stands to break some Louisiana records with his mile. “I base a lot of my motivation on the fact that I’m a Louisiana native making my way in the running world,” he says. He’s obviously very big on the fact that he comes from a small community. (Hathaway is a small prairie community near Jennings whose population is so small that — as far as I can tell — it doesn’t have a Wikipedia or U.S. Census entry.) If LeBlanc could make the Hathaway community proud in his McNeese mile run, “it would mean the world to me,” he says.
LeBlanc, who is 24 now, is comfortable with being dominant in the mile at his present age when he’s “still young and able. I only have so many speed days left.”
LeBlanc’s Best Shot
As he ages, he’ll gradually move from shorter to longer running events. This effort will dovetail with his training for the Olympics.
“We made the decision last fall to train for [my] first half-marathon. We kind of looked at the time [that was likely to guarantee Olympic qualifying].” The time was precisely 1.05.00. “I felt that was very doable,” says LeBlanc.
LeBlanc’s personal running plan will take a huge step forward in February of next year, when he travels to Los Angeles for the Olympic marathon trials. “This will be the biggest race of my life,” he says.
Of course, LeBlanc will structure his training with the 2020 Olympics in the back of his mind. “I’m not fully committed to the marathon,” he says. “We want to be patient with this sport. A lot of good athletes wind up dying on the vine.” He feels his “best shot” for an Olympic medal will be in a distance event in 2020.
But that’s still a ways away. Right now, LeBlanc still has speed on his mind. As he approaches his Lake Charles race, he wants “to thank everybody for the support they’ve given me. I’d like to reach out to the community of Southwest Louisiana and the whole state.
“I’d really like to put on a show for them. It’d be such a privilege. I’d be honored.”