Camper Profiles

Dave Popik


Camper Dave Popik

Dave (age 42) has been a runner for over 25 years, but didn't start running marathons until he was 30. Since that point, he has completed 15 marathons and attended running camp at Craftsbury for three years. He is 42 and lives in Chester, VA with his wife, three boys and his Old English sheep dog.

How did you get started running? And why do you run now?

I started running when I was a kid through the Presidential Fitness Challenge and it just stuck.

I started my running career as an 800 meter runner in high school in Charleston, SC. Like most high schools in the South, we had a typical foot ball coach for a track coach and I remember how frustrating it was just running laps around the football field. We didn't even have a track and we had to use the local college track to get our workouts accomplished.

I really buckled down on my studies and my running after my junior year. I knew I had to make some changes if I wanted to run in college. The women's high school track team had a real coach and I got up the nerve to ask her if she would train me and help me break the 2:00 barrier for 800 meters. I had to ask my current coach (the football coach) for permission and surprisingly he agreed to allow me to train with the women's team.

I remember how difficult it was to break the 2 minute barrier but once I did, I never looked back. My PR in high school was 1:54 and I even won a race wearing one shoe when one of my spikes came off. I finished my high school career by placing 4th in the state meet.

I initially attended Johnson State College where I ran cross country. I transferred to Clemson Univeristy as a sophomore where I ran my PR of 1:51.

I didn't start running marathons until I was 30 when I joined a friend who was training for the Boston marathon. I decided I really wanted to run Boston, too! I qualified for it with my first try at the marathon when I ran 3:06. My current PR is 2:55 and I am now training for the Myrtle Beach marathon in February. I am shooting for a sub-2:50.

Now I run to stay fit and because it makes me feel good. Running gives me the confidence and the determination to take on anything. On the best days, running is like being one with your self. I feel like I could run forever and I am like a deer running through the woods.

What's your favorite distance?

I like the marathon, because it is me against myself and I love competing against myself for time across the different courses. The half marathon is fun because I can really turn up the speed.

What brought you to camp? What did you hope to learn coming to camp?

A friend of mine was given a week at camp by his wife and he invited me to come along.

His invitation provided me with all the incentive I needed to head north. I really wanted to get back to the basics, pick up some new techniques to reduce injury and improve my overall performance. Things like learning how to run up and down hills, not having to race every workout and how to improve overall core strength for instance.

What do you like about Craftsbury?

I like the fact that we are out in the middle of nowhere with just the basic necessities. We have great coaches who truly care about us, great food, and we learn how to improve our overall performance. Not to mention there's the beauty of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center and Vermont.

How long were you at camp until you realized this was going to be a good week?

After the first day I knew I had found the best kept secret in the Northeast. It was just the right combination of fun and direction from the coaches, plus the fellow campers.

What do you tell yourself when your mojo is lacking and you have to get out the door to get a particular hard workout accomplished?

I tell myself that someone else is getting it done and if I do not, they will own me the next time I race them.

Running takes intention. We have to make it happen for ourselves. How do you organize your day and your energy to fit it in around family and job responsibilities?

I ensure that I pack the right nutrition and fluid to allow me to be powered up at the end of a long day at work. I like to run after work because it allows me to reflect on the day and the next steps in my life.

Are you a solitary or a social runner?

I am a social runner, I like the energy of the group. But I also like to run by myself, especially on my long runs. It allows me to remain strong during a marathon.

Music on a run or not?

I know you do not like music Lynn, but sometimes I like to run with it.

You are a former state trooper. Now you are an insurance investigator. Any good stories where being a fast runner saved the day for you?

I've had several situations where being in shape allowed me to effectively control a situation and saved my life. One time I had an individual run from a car that I had stopped. During the first 200 yards of the chase I noticed he was carrying a gun in his hand. He saw me chasing him and he attempted to turn and shoot me. Because I was in great shape (and a former 800 meter runner), I was able to close the gap very quickly before he got me. He had a pocket full of crack cocaine and told me that his intent was to take me out.

My nickname in my Patrol Unit was "The Dog." I never lost a foot chase or an altercation thanks to being physically fit. I was also a member of the PT squad for the Patrol and I always excelled on our annual PT test.

Favorite food and drink after a tough long run?

I like a smoothie, a cup of coffee and sometimes a pickle. Crazy, but effective.

Toughest thing about running?

Getting started, especially with interval workouts, but afterwards the rewards are endless.