Lauren Borduin was out in front of the pack, several strides in front of the other runners in the last lap of the 1600-meter run. She was alone.
It is a familiar position for Borduin, who is used to leading races. A junior at Rock Bridge, Borduin is one of the best long distance and middle distance runners the Bruins have had. She has won a state championship in cross country and she holds six school records in track.
At last weekend’s Class 4 District 5 meet, Borduin won the 1600- and 800-meter runs, sprinting to a 2:18.15 in the 800, to help the Bruins place fourth at the meet. She is expected to win at Saturday’s sectional at Camdenton and perfrom well at the state meet.
She is also aware of how alone she can be.
“When I first came here, I just wanted to fit in with everyone,” she said. “Having athletics made the transition easier, so you don’t feel so alone.”
Borduin never liked to run alone, but she had to when she trained for Nike. Borduin went to the Nike Outdoor Nationals last summer in North Carolina. Before the race she trained with only her coach to keep her company.
“It was a reality shock,” she said. “I’m by myself.”
When Borduin first joined the Rock Bridge team two years ago, she was happy to be accepted. She was happy because she could run for the Bruins as freshman, a year before she was a Rock Bridge student.
“People in track don’t care what age you are,” she said.
Borduin had been running track since she was in seventh grade, but the sport started out merely as a means to train inbetween basketball seasons. But in her first year with the Rock Bridge track team, she discovered her niche races and started to love the sport.
“I was told I had one of the best 800 times in the state, and I thought I was just a little freshman,” she said.
It has become difficult to keep Borduin off the track. This year she had an injury in her left hip that caused considerable pain. She needed to take time to recover, but she also wanted to keep running.
“Sometimes you say you want a break, but when you’re standing on sidelines you just want to be running,” she said. “I love running so much, missing practice for a couple days was torture.”
When Borduin is running she can seem unbeatable. Her long legs prevent her from getting tired at any distance. While many of her contemporaries are taking deep breaths to keep pace, she looks like she isn’t even trying. She’s good enough that she has been troubled by a lack of competition this year.
“The first time she ran the 800 this year she won by 12 seconds,” Rock Bridge coach Neal Blackburn said. “Sometimes it’s been frustrating for her.”
Because she can feel alone on the track, Borduin tries to maintain a close relationship with her teammates, both the ones who first accepted her and the new runners who she is trying to welcome.
“Because people accepted me and made me feel welcome, I just want to do the same thing,” she said.
Blackburn said that Borduin helps motivate the Bruins. He said that she has been great as a leader by example.
“She shows the kids what it takes to be the best at your event,” he said. “Time wise she was been the most productive athlete to ever walk through the doors at Rock Bridge.”