Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009 | midnight
Ryan Gehring knows the value of perseverance.
For three years, the Barbara and Hank Greenspun Junior High School eighth grader has chased his dream of breaking the school's two-year-old record for the mile-run.
Each year he chipped away at his time, shaving off seconds until his moment came last fall.
Every Monday, Gehring participated in the Mile Monday running program with his physical education class and his instructor, Sean Farnsworth. On Sept. 22, Gehring said he felt an indescribable energy that gave him confidence to obtain his goal.
With borrowed racing flats from his older brother, Gehring made his way to the starting line of a four-lap, mile-long course around the school's baseball fields.
"The whole day I was nervous and excited to get out there," Gehring, 14, said. "I couldn't pay attention in class. I got out there and stretched and got off to a pretty good start. I was OK for the first two laps, but toward the end I was in a lot of pain. I crossed the line and collapsed. I thought I was going to throw-up."
Gehring beat Greenspun graduate Robert Hommel's old record of 5 minutes, 30 seconds by six seconds to set a new mark of 5:24. Since then, Gehring has dropped his record to 5:17.
"Other students can try to break it now," Gehring said. "I'm pretty confident they won't for a while."
Gehring said Farnsworth encouraged him along the way and helped him make improvements in his approach.
"Ryan has been a faithful participant in our running club for three years now, and he's made a lot of improvements," Farnsworth said. "I used to beat him on hill sprints every time, but I can't anymore. He's gotten too good and I've gotten too old. He enjoys pushing himself — he enjoys the pain."
Gehring's father, Roger Gehring Jr., said his son's achievement stands as an example of what can be achieved with hard work.
"Ryan has always been very self-driven," Roger Gehring said. "When he sets his sights on something, he goes and gets it. Each week I'd ask him how he did that day and it was fun to see him consistently improve his time. I think, because of his mind-set, the sky is the limit for him."
Ryan Gehring already has another goal in mind as he continues to cut time and prepare for high school.
"I want to leave the school with the lowest time I can, but in the future I want to get my time down to 4:13," the younger Gehring said. "That was Mr. Farnsworth's best time. I can come back and rub it in his face if I beat it."
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.