It’s not often that aspiring high school student-athletes have a face-to-face encounter with a world championship-calibur professional athlete. It’s even less often, and extremely rare, to have that athlete hail from their own backyard. This was just the case on the evening of Thursday, October 17, when BFA Fairfax Cross Country and Track athletes were treated to an up close and personal evening with Montgomery, VT native, and Richford High School graduate Elle Purrier, who now runs professionally for team New Balance. Home for a two week break, fresh off her recent appearance in the finals of the IAAF World Track and Field Championship 5000 meter race, Purrier spoke with starry eyed student-athletes from four Franklin County high schools.  

Student-athletes were inspired by her down to earth reflections on coming from a rural Vermont school, adapting to college at the University of New Hampshire, and balancing the demands of being a student, athlete, and individual. Attendees were able to ask questions ranging from the typical day in the life of a professional runner, to what the differences were like in Doha, Qatar (the site of the recent World Championships). 

BFA Fairfax student-athletes were able to spend time afterward with Purrier, asking questions, getting autographs, and taking pictures with their newfound mentor and hero. Sophomores Nikki Cholewa and Kali Wooster were able to connect with Purrier on a personal level, as they shared their experience of coming in 2nd in the state championship 4×400 race last June by only one tenth of a second. Just this past September, Purrier had narrowly missed a first place finish in the prestigious 5th Avenue Mile race, held in New York City, by the exact same margin. Purrier candidly and playfully responded “it really lights a fire under your backside, doesn’t it?” As simple as they were, those words will forever be etched in the minds of Nikki, Kali and their teammates for the remainder of their careers, and years to come.  

Purrier at IAAF World Track and Field Championship

BFA Fairfax is so fortunate to have had this opportunity, and would like to thank Elle Purrier, Richford High School Cross Country coach Richard Flint, and Richford High School for hosting this memorable event. We hope to see you in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Elle!  

Geri Witalec-Krupa is an Athletic Director/Assistant Principal at BFA Fairfax is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her @GLWit

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