At first glance, dairy and the 3,000-meter steeplechase don’t seem to have a lot in common. That is, unless you’re Elle Purrier.
Purrier grew up working on her family’s dairy farm, Sunset-Hyll Farm, in the small town of Montgomery, Vermont, a few miles south of the Canadian border. Growing up, Purrier did farm chores before school, and often after school, helped her family with bringing in hay during the summer and fall, along with many other duties such as building fences and tending the cows.
Fast forward to 2016, Purrier is an incoming senior and captain of the cross country team at the University of New Hampshire. She’s not just any runner. As part of the American East conference, she has won 12 individual and team conference titles, two eastern collegiate conference titles and four All American titles.
This winter she ran the fastest 2015-2016 women’s indoor mile time of 4 minutes and 29.71 seconds, which also ranks as the 8th fastest time ever run by a college woman.
This spring, Purrier thought it would be “fun” to focus on the 3,000-meter steeplechase on the outdoor track, which is a unique and grueling event that includes multiple barriers and a water hazard.
There must be something in the chocolate milk because Purrier ran a personal best time of 9 minutes 47.17 seconds which was not only a school record, but was a qualifying time for her to run at the track and field trials on a national stage.
On July 4, Purrier stood on the start line against the nation’s 33 fastest steeplechase runners (mostly professionals). Although she did not finish in the top tier, she’s not discouraged by this race, but rather motivated to do better in four years for a chance to go to Tokyo. This farm girl is just getting started.
She credits much of her success to the life lessons and work ethic that she developed from growing up on the farm. She says that physically and mentally the farm made her strong and tough. The physical demand of working on the farm taught her how to cope with feeling uncomfortable and not being afraid of pain.
This relates to hard workouts while training for her races and even injuries. For Purrier, finishing barn chores after getting kicked in a soft spot is similar to getting back up and crossing the finish line after being knocked down. In both situations it’s mentally and physically tough, but somewhere deep inside she pulls out a little motivation to get the job done.
Purrier swears one of the secrets to her success is always drinking chocolate milk to help her recovery after running. Dairy has always been a big part of her diet growing up, she says carrying these habits into her training have only had positive benefits, both on and off the track.