Campus Currents

The Longest Race

Craig Lange

Craig Lange '04 was leading in the decathlon at the America East Championship in May when he stepped up to the starting line for his last event and the final race of his college career. A fierce competitor and top UNH track star, Lange had entered the day in good stead to set a new school record and to qualify for the NCAA track and field championships, a goal he and his coaches had worked toward all season.

But as Lange got ready for the 1,500-meter race, he knew he would not come close to winning the event. He wasn't even sure he could finish. Earlier, competing in a relay race to help out the team, Lange had torn the hamstring in his left leg.

At the end of the first day of the two-day championship, Lange had been leading in the decathlon with 3,654 points. With just a few events left, it looked as if he would easily break the record of 6,895 points set by Mike Wellington '89 in 1989, and he was within reach of the 7,150 points needed to qualify for the NCAAs. After Lange cleared 9 feet, 2 inches in his first pole vault attempt, UNH head track coach Jim Boulanger '75 asked him to run the anchor in the 4-by-100 relay, something Lange had done all season. "About 20 meters into the race he went down hard," recalls Boulanger.

Craig Lange

The trainer wrapped Lange's leg from shin to hip and advised him to call it a day. But while Lange knew his chances to win the decathlon might be over, the team was still in contention for the overall title. With the aid of teammates and a pair of crutches, Lange made his way to the javelin throwing area, where he hopped up to the line on one foot and threw the javelin 103 feet. Then he ran the 1,500, bringing the crowd to its feet in a standing ovation as he crossed the finish line.

"Pulling your hamstring feels like slamming your fingers in a car door. Every time I put weight on that leg it felt like I was slamming that car door over and over again,'' says Lange, who recently started a nutrition products company in Victorville, Calif.

Later, Boulanger shook his head. "In 30 years of coaching," he told Foster's Daily Democrat, "I don't think I've ever had anybody take it to that level."

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