It’s cold and dark at 5:30 a.m. when freshmen Andrew Burr goes on his daily 7-mile run before school, working toward his 50 miles for the week. With nothing on his mind but becoming the best, Burr is on his way to becoming one of the top runners in the U.S.
Recently, Burr was named state boys’ cross country runner of the week by Milesplit, the official national track & field coverage network, because of his notable tournament history. Specifically, Burr outpaced 200 students to win the Wildfire Invitational 5-kilometer race in Forest Hill with a time of 17 minutes, 16 seconds.
Burr said his win wasn’t the only reason he was the runner of the week.
“What really made that happen was I had a string of really good performances at big meets such as the Clovis Invitational and Woodbridge, down in Southern California,” Burr said.
In both races, Burr placed first out of 800 runners with a time of 16:35 at Clovis and 16:03 in Woodbridge in the 5-kilometer.
“It kind of put me on the radar for a lot of people and solidified me as one of the top freshman runners in California,” Burr said.
Burr is more than just a top freshmen runner in the state, he is a former world record holder.
He held the record for 10-year-olds until March of last year, running 10 miles in 1:09:05, less than 7 minutes per mile.
He set the record in 2017, beating the previous one by a minute and a half in the 45th Annual Cazenovia July 4th foot races in New York. There, Burr represented the Buffalo Chips, a local running club he ran for until he entered high school.
Burr said one of the hardest things about the sport is getting prepared.
“It’s just as important to be mentally prepared as it is to be physically prepared. So, before a race, I usually stick with a routine which involves eating the same things and normally getting nine to 10 hours of sleep two nights in advance,” he said.
“Before my race starts, I listen to some music and remember my training to relax because being both calm and confident is key,” he said.
Burr was first inspired to run by his parents who are recreational marathon runners.
“Whenever his mother and I would be running a 5k or 10k for fun, he would come along and run with us. I think he saw us running just for fun when he was little and that got him interested,” said Burr’s father, Jeremy Burr.
When Burr was 5, his parents encouraged him and entered him into a few recreational races for kids. He ended up enjoying the races and continued with it. When he was 6, Burr started to run 5k’s. When he was 8, he ran 10k’s, and when he was 9, he ran his his first half-marathon.
Burr said he started taking the sport seriously in fourth and fifth grades.
“Andrew prioritizes training at the expense of doing other things that may be even more fun. Like he might have a sleepover with his friends, but he’ll still get up really early at 5:30 the next day for his training,” Jeremy Burr said.
There’s a reason for that.
“It’s a hard sport to get into, but once you get into the rhythm, it’s all you think about,” Burr said.
Over the summer, Burr was invited to the American Distance Project in Colorado to run with a professional team made up mainly of young, talented athletes.
There, he trained with Olympic silver and bronze medalist, Paul Chelimo.
Burr said it was a great learning experience running side by side with older and more experienced track runners, and he hopes this experience will stick with him and help him grow in the future.
At Country Day, Burr has been dubbed captain of the Country Day cross country team.
Coach Joe Hartman said he gave Burr the title for his tremendous skill and work ethic.
“His rankings section-wide and state-wide at various distances are eye-opening,” Hartman said. “He has a good chance to be the best male runner at SCDS and one of the best runners in section Division 5 history.”
In his first year being captain, Burr individually won the Division 5 local league championship, while Country Day placed third overall.
Burr is excited to join the SCDS track and field team in the spring, as it begins again following a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions..
It is Burr’s first high school year and he looks forward to running and competing in the 1600-meter, 3200-meter, and 5000-meter events.
“I can go into any race and enjoy it,” Burr said.
Burr will be leading an upcoming race—Country Day’s Annual Run to Feed the Hungry.
Burr encourages everyone regardless of running experience to join him for the run on Thanksgiving day. For the optional 5-kilometer or 10-kilometer run-walk event.
Donations are due Nov. 11 on the online signup sheet on the Run to Feed the Hungry website. All the money raised will go directly to the Sacramento food banks charity. Donors will receive a special shirt and the satisfaction of doing something good, Burr said.
For nine of the past 10 years, the Country Day team has been one of the top donors.
As the team leader this year, Burr hopes to maintain the streak and encourage Country Day students and families to donate anywhere between $1 to $1,000.
“Anything helps and it’s for a great cause,” Burr said. “Country Day is the perfect community for this kind of event.”
— By JACOB CHAND & GARRETT XU
Originally published in the Nov 16 edition of the Octagon.