He looked back as he crossed the finish line and no one was even close behind him. His grandparents looked down from the stands and cheered him on, as he finished 52nd, the honor that accompanies a last place finish. The Pac 10 race, the final meet of the year, was the race that started then Washington State runner Dan Boniface’s road to the top runner on the University of Miami cross-country team.
Boniface’s last place finish back in 1999 quickly erased the mentality that he was keeping up with the Jones’ of running. After that race, Boniface vowed that he “would never lose a race like that again.”
This new motivation, combined with the advice of former teammate and friend Justin Murray, led Boniface to train that summer in Boulder, Colorado. Murray assured him that if he wanted to take his running to another level, then Boulder was the place to train. After two years at Washington State, Boniface transferred to Miami, lured by the promise of training without the three months of snow he had grown accustomed to in Pullman, Washington. Fresh and dedicated, Boniface arrived in sunny Coral Gables after that first summer of training, ready to prove himself.
In his first year at Miami, Boniface began to display a huge difference in both talent and skill. In 2000 Boniface was named to the All State Team, while finishing fourth in the Big East.
Boniface’s results have continued to improve over the past two years. The senior captured the UCF Invitational Friday, his first career meet victory, and now holds the record for the Steeple Chase (a 3000 meter track race of 35 three foot barriers to jump over, nine of which are anteceded by water pits).
Boniface is a member of the indoor and outdoor track squads, as well as the cross-country team, which allows him to train and compete throughout the school year. Although Boniface’s ultimate goal this season is a trip to the outdoor Nationals in Sacramento, California, right now Boniface is focused on cross-country.
Boniface sees Cross Country as a huge team effort. Training hard with teammate Matthew Mulvaney, Boniface once again spent this past summer in Boulder, Colorado with Mulvaney, Billy Bludgus, and James Mullaly. Mulvaney has been impressed by his teammates work ethic.
“Dan’s running has been very controlled and that it is evident that he is a confidant runner this year,” Mulvaney said.
Mentors have always given Boniface motivation and he now hopes to become somewhat of a mentor to the younger guys on the team. Following his senior season at Miami, Boniface plans to live in Boulder and continue training with hopes to make the 2004 Olympic Trials. Though he would love to do something within the scope of his major, Boniface has other ambitions as well.
“I could maybe sell shoes, as long as I can train,” Boniface said.
Dan Boniface seems to be destined for success. He never stops creating new goals for himself and with a karaoke alter ego named Steve Money, he has motivated many shy vocalists to strut their stuff on stage at the Titanic Brewery. Boniface is impossible to catch as he runs his regiment of 80 miles a week, but lurking around any karaoke night, it may be possible to catch him wholeheartedly singing a rousing rendition of ‘Stroke It.’
Rachael Henrichsen can be reached at email@example.com