There is a lot going through Jordan Fewer’s mind during the 30 minutes or so it takes to run 10 kilometres, and winning is just one of them.
“I can be thinking of anything,” admits the rookie cross-country runner, who will compete for Memorial University at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships today at Laval University in Quebec City.
“From the grass growing; to what I plan for the rest of my life; to what the next breath is going to feel like; female teammates and, oh yeah, is that lactic acid rushing through my legs?”
He stands five-feet, eight-and-a-half inches, and insists the half inch is important.
If Fewer sounds frivolous, he isn’t. He’s simply honest and open about himself and a sport in which he seems destined to reach a level of stardom.
While Fewer’s mind wanders as he runs cross-country, he’s got a clear vision as to what he wants to accomplish with the Sea-Hawks.
Whatever his times are, he expects improvement.
His coaches maintain he has possibilities, and the tattooed young man has already shown signs of good things to come.
Memorial cross-country head coach Art Meaney says Fewer has had, “one of the most impressive rookie debuts in years for us.
“Jordan has enormous potential and a strong work ethic that will carry him far,” Meaney said.
“He has,” adds Meaney, “a beautiful running form and extraordinary speed and strength. I think he could be an AUS champion in the next few years and a CIS (top 14) all-star at a future championship.”
That’s a heap of praise, but Fewer has shown tremendous promise in his freshman campaign with the Sea-Hawks.
He placed seventh overall and earned an all-star nod, finishing in a personal best time of 32:57 — just three seconds behind the fifth-place finisher — at the recent AUS championships hosted by University of New Brunswick. He also had top 10 finishes (eighth and sixth) at Acadia and Dalhousie meets earlier this season.
As for this weekend’s CIS championship, Meaney said, “The CIS is a tough race, as it brings together the best university cross-country runners in the country. A top 25 finish there would be a notable achievement for a rookie, and I think he will have a shot at it.”
No longer ‘settling for what’s easy’
Everything wasn’t always so promising for Fewer, who smoked and was a bit of party boy just a few years ago.
Like any teenager, he still likes to have fun, but the first-year general studies student from Chapel’s Cove is more focused and admits he’s changed his lifestyle.
“I came to the realization I had to stop just settling for what’s easy,” said Fewer.
“Running is a lot like life in that you get out of it what you put in, so I started taking everything more seriously.”
He quit smoking which, he says, is one of the best call he’s ever made.
“I had to make some decisions to keep my life on the straight track and to become successful in life and running has been a good outlet for me.”
Like many young people just out of high school, Fewer was uncertain what he should do next.
“I attempted to go to CONA my first year after high school and realized it wasn’t for me, so I took the rest of that year off and decided to work as a labourer,” he said.
“I worked with great people, but soon realized I didn’t want to be doing that for the rest of my life. It just wasn’t for me.
“I got a lot of support from my family when I started talking about doing the university thing.”
Colin Fewer, Jordan’s uncle, and a seven-time Tely 10 winner, has had a positive influence on Jordan.
“Colin always told me I had potential and I can take it (running) somewhere with some hard work. I wasn’t ready to put the work in high school and other things just seemed easier,” said Fewer.
Jordan, who also played hockey and softball, started running at Roncalli Central High School in Avondale, where he picked up cross-country in Grade 9, “just for something to do at the time.”
He ran a regional race in Grade 11 and that was his last one until the Harbourfront 10k this year.
Colin said he understands what Jordan was going through as a teenager.
“I just think Jordan, like a lot of teenagers, was bombarded by peer pressures,” said Colin.
“(They) make decisions that maybe not always be the best for them. They live and learn from their mistakes as they live and learn from the positive things they do.
“You just hope that they take enough of the positive that they can put them on the right path in life to give themselves a chance to be successful.”
Colin Fewer said he doesn’t take any credit for helping to turn Jordan around.
“Jordan is the one responsible for that,” Colin said. “I’m just glad I was in a position that Jordan felt he had someone to talk to when he was ready to start making decisions to put himself on the right track in life.
“Last May, I was looking at the results of a local road race and saw Jordan’s name. Knowing it was his first 10k, I called him up to congratulate him. I asked him why he didn’t tell me he was racing.
“He said he wanted to keep it low key and was thinking about giving up smoking and getting things back on track in terms of school.”
Colin said Jordan didn’t know what he wanted to do with running and wasn’t ready to take the sport seriously.
“He was still trying to figure out what his school options were,” noted Colin.
“I just told him I respected that and that if he ever wanted to take running a step forward or to chat about the university option he could call me at anytime. He called me two weeks later.”
Colin said he let Jordan know that when he was ready, he was there for him.
“I told him I believed in him and what life,” said Colin. “I think I see a lot of me in him at the same age and I think he has also made that same connection. We grew up in the same town, went to same school
“ I think anyone who has had any kind of success has had someone who believes in them to help them along.”
Character, not genetics, at work, says uncle
Colin added that while some people have suggested Jordan’s success is due to genetics, he disagrees.
“I'm giving him credit for his great work ethic and consistent training that he has put in the past six months. I can count on one hand how many training days he has missed in that time He follows the training plan that I have given him and gets the job done … no excuses. For three of those months, he worked 40 hours a week at a building supplies company.”
Colin sees good things for Jordan in the future.
“Jordan has shown that he has the tools and work ethic to be successful at whatever career he chooses.
“From the varsity cross-country side of Jordan's future, I think he possess all the right stuff to be a future AUS champion and to establish himself as one of the top university runners in the country in the next few years.
“I think Jordan is a great role model for a lot of high school graduates who are sort of unmotivated and stuck in limbo. Sometimes you just need to make that first step … the confidence to make that change.”
For his part, Jordan confirms, “Uncle Colin has been extremely confident in my ability to become successful, so I’m not so much surprised in my accomplishments so far this year as pleased. I can’t be satisfied because once you are satisfied, you won’t want to get any faster or better.”
And then there are those things that go through his mind during a race.
Jordan Fewer said that often there’s a feeling he can, “kick back and slow up a bit.”
That’s one thought he has to get out of his mind, he says.
Instead, he thinks of his Art Meaney and his uncle and, “It’s their motivation in a race that really keeps the legs moving when you want to slow down.”
And then he thinks of his teammates and the training they’ve put in all year.
And so, in the end, there are no options left.
Nothing else to think about except pushing yourself to the limit.
“In cross (country),” says Jordan, “your teammates depend on you and if you slow down, you are letting the other guys down and that’s not a possibility.”
Sometimes the mind wanders and sometimes it’s focused.