Darren Driscoll discovers new motivation in Blacksburg to return to racing form

Darren Driscoll (right) surges toward the finish line of the 2018 Draper Mile with his “track Tuesday” training partner Jordan Chang. Darren ran 4:30 and finished 10th overall.

Darren Driscoll credits his older brother, Jason, for inspiring him to start running in middle school and eventually for four years at Virginia Wesleyan University in Virginia Beach.

He cites Strava for motivating him to get moving and back into shape following a two-year hiatus from running after he earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry and moved to Blacksburg for grad school.

“On Strava, I would see everyone else hitting the trails on weekends, running 5-7 days a week and that really drove me to start increasing my training,” he said. “Now my motivation is getting myself back into the type of shape I was in college — with a little less intensity, and maybe a couple slower, longer runs.”

Mission accomplished – or at least close to it, judging by Darren’s performance at this month’s Blacksburg Classic. He finished second, running a speedy 5:48 per mile pace, despite some course confusion and misdirection from a volunteer that resulted in the top two finishers (Darren and race winner Danny Rau) running 10.4 miles while the rest of the field ran a shortened 9.53 miles. (Final standings were adjusted by race officials based on pace and the fastest runners – Danny and Darren – received the top awards.)

With his fitness getting better and better, expect to see Darren hitting the race scene whenever he can.

“I love competition and I enjoy the challenge of other racers during a race.”

You might also spot him at Carol Lee Donuts after a long run at Pandapas Pond or winding, steep roads of Clover Hollow in Giles County.

His favorite donut: Strawberry.

Did you know if you buy the Carol Lee t-shirt you get one free donut with each visit?

Darren Driscoll

Hometown: Haymarket, Virginia

Age: 27

College: Graduated from Virginia Wesleyan in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry; four-year member of the track and cross country teams and a winner of the prestigious ODAC/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete.

Graduate school: Ph.D. student in chemistry at Virginia Tech

Why did you start running? My brother started running in middle school. In an attempt to do everything he did, I started running laps during recess in 2nd grade.  

Best memories of running for Virginia Wesleyan? Winning the ODAC Distance Medley Relay in 2012. (I was the 1200 m leg that ran first). Something about being on a winning relay and celebrating it with the guys you trained with every day was way more special than any individual win. (I also didn’t win very often …)

What led you to Virginia Tech? I was accepted into the chemistry program. Nikki Cuthbert (girlfriend at the time and now fiancé) was accepted in the veterinary college. I also thought studying chemical warfare agents sounded fun.

How did you get connected to the Blacksburg running community? I heard about these group runs from the running store and soon enough I met Jordan Chang and company. About a year later, I found out Jordan and Bryan Plunkett were holding “Track Tuesday” workouts so I just showed up unannounced and told them I was joining. Since then I’ve slowly peer pressured others to start coming out for fast ovals.

Favorite distance to race? 5K 

Favorite training workout? 5 x 1 Mile on 60 seconds rest

Brothers Jason (left) and Darren Driscoll hiked up to Rice Fields on the Appalachian Trail.

Who inspires and/or motivates you? For many years in my youth, I was motivated/inspired by my brother. Now I’ve started to find self-motivation and just run and train hard. I don’t take every run as seriously but overall I’m enjoying running and running with others.

Any funny training or racing stories to share? Well this one time, I actually ran 10.4 miles in a 10-mile race…

Worst injury? Stress fracture in my femoral head and I still ran a 28:30 8K at conference (in hindsight that was really dumb).

Advice for new runners? Change it up (run different paces, different distances and every once in a while, challenge your body)

Longest race you have run? I ran a half marathon once …

Trails or roads? Dirt roads

Any running superstitions or rituals? Is it superstitious to not have superstitions?

Fact many people don’t know about you?  I needed 13 stitches in my foot when a metal stake went through it. This happened during freshman orientation in college and 6 weeks later I was back racing cross country.

Favorite place to celebrate with a beer? I’m a big fan of celebrating … Mondays at Franks, Thursday at The Cellar, Friday at Macados, Saturday at Champs, and after 9 p.m. on Saturday at London Underground.

Training/racing goals as you look ahead? Hit the Boston Marathon qualifier, beat Danny Rau in a race … In reality, I just want to stay healthy for an entire year.

Will you ever run an ultra? I consider it a possibility more and more each day.

You might also like these stories:

A thank you to James Demarco and Runabout Sports

Lessons learned from leading a college track and cross country program at age 24 

Jenn Fleming’s comeback story continues with win at Holiday Lake 50K

Blacksburg running legend Peter Dorrell helps build community

Darren and his fiancé Nikki Cuthbert are decked out for the ugly sweater contest at the Runabout Sports Wednesday night pub run. Nikki won the overall contest, voted on by all of the runners.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s