From across the pond comes Poppy Tank, a freshman at the U and a runner on the university’s cross country team. Already, she is one of the rising stars in Utah’s running program. To come in as a freshman and make the impact she has, most people would think she was running since she was young. Her own words tell a different story, though.
“I’ve been running for about eight years now,” Tank said. “I come from an athletic family and decided to try running one time. I found that I was naturally good at it and I proceeded to join a local running club. I’ve had the same coach for the last eight years and it has been a great experience for me so far.”
When asked what she likes most about running, she mentioned that she is a very competitive person and that running is something where she feels totally in control, adding that it is a “great way to relieve stress”.
But staying in running shape all year round requires a lot of training, and that’s exactly what she does.
“We train every day from about 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.,” Tank said. “Back home in England, I would run cross country in summer and fall, and I ran track in the winter and spring. It is a little different here, because I’ll be running indoor track during the winter and getting outside again in February.”
She added that while she fully intends to run track and field this spring, she has no idea yet what events she might be participating in.
“It’s not for sure yet, but I think I want to run the mile and the 5k races. There’s also been some encouragement for me to run the steeplechase, but I don’t yet know if I want to do that much,” she said with a smile and a laugh.
But she almost didn’t run for the Utes. When she was looking at colleges, she also received an offer from the University of San Fransisco. However, she eventually decided to trade the Bay Area for the Rocky Mountains, something that she thinks has helped her abilities.
“I really like running here because we have a very competitive region and conference,” Tank said. “being at our altitude is great because it helps our bodies get stronger, it helps our lungs get greater capacity. I think it really helps us against our competition.”
There are many things that she enjoys about running collegiately, and one is that the team atmosphere has been very welcoming and inviting for her.
“Our first plane ride together was so much fun,” Tank said. “Traveling with the team is great. I live with the runners on the team, so it was pretty easy for me to make friends.”
But it hasn’t all been easy. Being in a new country, thousands of miles away from her family has been a difficult adjustment. She says while there wasn’t much of a culture shock issue, living in the U.S. has been hard, mainly because of how close she and her family are.
“The most difficult part, aside from missing my family, is keeping track of all the school work,” Tank said. “I’m really on my own. In high school when I had work to do, my teachers were there to help remind us and help us through the work. Here, I have to make sure that I’m checking Canvas staying on top of things.”
She has been enjoying her experience running in college and mentions that the facilities at the U are top-notch. She also noted that one of the reasons she chose the U was because of how approachable the coaches were, and head coach Kyle Kepler had some high praise for Poppy.
“She is part of that stellar freshman class we have,” Kepler said. “I think she brings some uniqueness to our team, because of her international experience. We like to have that because it is a real asset to our runners. We always have high expectations for our runners, but for her to come in and win her very first race at the college level was very impressive. She has made a really fast transition to this level of competition.”
Running is more than something you do, it’s who you are. Hard work and dedication equal success, and no one else can personify that like Tank.