The Story Behind London Culbreath's 16:36 5K PR At McNeil


Going on her third year of high school competition, McKinney North junior London Culbreath has yet to lose an individual race on Texas soil. I'm not even sure she has even lost a relay race either. 

As impressive of a stat as that is, one of the best distance runners in Texas high school history raised the bar for even her standards. At the McNeil InvitationalCulbreath ran a life time best 5K of 16:36.86, which currently ranks her #2 in the country. The performance is also the tenth fastest 5K by a girl in the United States, over the last decade.

So, what led to Culbreath's outstanding performance?

Well, for many elite athletes, the desire to avoid complacency keeps them pushing for better and more. That is partly true for Culbreath as well, but things are even more isolated and specific for her with her 2018 season. Personal dissatisfaction is a motivating factor for her current season. "I'm wanting to redeem myself, last year I wasn't excited with how I did," Culbreath said.

Referring to her 2017 Nike Cross Country National Championships (NXN) performance where she finished 31st with a time of 18:28.00, is what is on her mind of improving on for this season. That was a finish that most would love to have at a national championship race. However, that race was both the lowest place finish and the slowest 5K of Culbreath's career. Previously, as a freshman, she ran 17:58.30 for 12th place as a freshman at NXN and not improving upon that last year was clearly a let down for her.

This season has been set up for success and improvement for Culbreath by McKinney North head coach Jessica Richards. Her season opener and training were both strategized specifically for her success at big meets including the stat meet and NXN.

"Just knowing that God is giving me the strength, I'm coming out for full out redemption and keeping a focused mind on my goal."

London Culbreath, McKinney North junior

That plan included a race at the University of Arkansas famous meet, the Chile Pepper Invitational two weeks ago where she ran in the college race. Culbreath said, "It was amazing I love being pushed." The competition in that race against an experienced field and physically stronger runners was designed to give the type of race and competition she couldn't get in any high school race. It was also meant to prepare Culbreath for the NXN race coming up this December that she is motivated for. "I like being in uncomfortable situations since I know they're going to make me better in the long run. I really enjoyed running with them, because i learned a few thing about myself as a runner and i just picked up on certain skills that were needed." 

Mission accomplished! Coming out with a 17:06, which was a SB until this past weekend and a 6th place finish amongst 400 collegiate runners, Culbreath learned what she needed to learn following the path and intent of the race.

Even more evidence of the success for Culbreath are her current feelings. "It feels amazing, I'm so excited that God allowed me to come out here and do this, I'm so happy right now."

You can also add confidence to her current feelings as well, and it helped  lead to her sub 17 minute performance. "I knew I wanted to get a PR today, not in the 16:30s, but I'm super excited."

All is good in Culbreath's world. But, don't think she is letting her guard down after this weekend.

That desire to avoid complacency that we mentioned -- Well, that's still in her as is her motivation for a better finish at NXN.

"Just knowing that God is giving me the strength, I'm coming out for full out redemption and keeping a focused mind on my goal."

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