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The Boulder

Noah Droddy runs the Chicago Marathon

The most American athlete ever

Noah Droddy ’13 finished dead last in the July 2016 Olympic Trials for a spot on the 10,000-meter team.

And yet he caused such a sensation that social media went wild. “An American hero.” “Majestic.” “The most American athlete to ever live.” “The coolest Olympian in the history of the Olympics.”

Runner’s World magazine called him a hipster, suggested it would be “easy to believe” his participation in the trials were “an elaborate prank” and said that, having “crashed” the trials, he became a star. 

All because of his unconventional appearance.

Said Runner’s World: “In the lineup of clean-shaven, big-brand-sponsored distance stars hoping to make the U.S. Olympic team on a Friday night in Eugene, Oregon, the Joe Dirt doppelganger with bouncing locks and a killer ’stache didn’t fit.”

More than three years and many, many miles of training later, Droddy takes it all in stride, maybe even enjoys it a little. He noted – without bitterness – that he did not crash the 2016 trials, but had qualified to participate. The attention, he figured, came because he was “a pretty unknown quantity in the running world” who had an “untraditional look. There aren’t a lot of guys with hair as long as mine, so I think I definitely stuck out a little bit on the start line.”

“I’ve always had people in my life who support the things that I’m passionate about, so it’s been easy for me to pursue those things. Whether they’re nonconformist or not has never really been something that crossed my mind.”
– Noah Droddy

These days, he aims to stick out more at the finish line. At 29, he is “entering that prime status” for long-distance running and is training full time in Boulder, Colorado, as a member of the Roots Running Project. He is sponsored by Saucony, the shoe company, and Polar, which makes heart rate monitors and GPS watches.    

Droddy placed 20th – and first among Americans – in a marathon in Rotterdam last April and was 17th in the Chicago Marathon (and the eighth American) in October, when he lowered his personal best time by a few minutes. A knee injury thwarted him from competing in the Feb. 29 Olympic marathon trial; he hopes to qualify for the 10.000-meter trial this summer.

Though he was a standout on DePauw’s cross country team, he didn’t plan to be a professional runner but did not have an alternate career path in mind. “I could do a lot of different things and I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to narrow it down to something else,” he said. “So I just kind of went with communications, and I felt good about it.”

Nor did he seek to be a noncomformist. “I’ve always had people in my life who support the things that I’m passionate about, so it’s been easy for me to pursue those things,” he said. “Whether they’re nonconformist or not has never really been something that crossed my mind.”

 

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