Friday, December 15, 2017

Pete Farwell: The Track and Cross Country Coach Who Might Have Gotten Me Into the Olympics

Pete Farwell, Cross
Country, Track and Field
Coach at Williams College
Earlier this week, I learned that my old friend, Pete Farwell, was inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Hall of FameMeeting Pete was one of the highlights of my time as a political science professor at Williams College.
I was interested in Pete, in part, because I competed in cross country and track as a high school student in Southern California. With only the most inadequate coaching, I still managed through sheer will-power to break an impressive list of school records posting a 4:23 mile, a 1:52 half mile and a 0:50 quarter mile all at age 18.
I ended up at Occidental College because I was recruited for my skill as an athlete and not for my, as yet, undeveloped skill as a political scientist.
After a couple of weeks running with Pete and his team I ended up thinking I might have been an Olympic athlete if I had had him as a coach during my youthful years. I hung out with Pete and his team largely to get exercise and be of service. I got to fire the starting gun a couple of times and attended team events. I ended up learning so much from him that benefited me for years including mixing up my workouts, icing down afterwards, and correctly running heel to toe.
One of his best tricks as a coach was to not allow his cross country runners to have a slow rest day prior to a regular season cross country event. Then, at the very end of the season, he gave them a rest period prior to the championship. The result was a profound psychological and physiological advantage that supercharged his athletes and overwhelmed their opponents.
Pete was very kind to me and had me over to his home a number of times for dinner. We were both interested in Buddhism and meditation. We never talked politics. I’m glad to see him being honored. He was, without a doubt, the best cross country coach I ever had in my entire life and the best one I ever met.

Here's some more information I harvested off of the internet regarding Pete and his remarkable achievements. 


Pete Farwell has been at Williams College since 1979, and is the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country teams.

Through the 2016 season his men’s teams have won 13 New England regional titles plus six runners-up and four thirds), 16 NESCAC titles and 8 ECAC titles, garnering Farwell nine regional coach of the year honors. He was named 1994 National Coach of the Year after leading the Williams men to the first of its two NCAA championships.

In 2015 Farwell’s Eph men’s team finished second at the NCAA Championships, just nine points from the title, while his Eph women’s team won the NCAA title by a margin of 98 points.

Since 1993 the men’s teams have finished in the top ten 18 times, and the women’s teams won the NCAA title in 2002, 2004 and 2015 and have recorded four runner-up finishes with 15 top eight placings in the past 16 years.

Coach Farwell’s women’s teams have won four New England regional titles, including 2015 to go with nine runners-up finishes and two thirds, seven NESCAC titles and five ECAC titles, and he has been chosen women’s regional coach of the year four times, NESCAC Coach of the Year four times, and National Coach of the Year three times in 2002, 2004 & 2015.

Altogether Coach Farwell has coached 24 men harriers to 37 All-American finishes (including two national champions) and 19 women to 29 All-American finishes (including one national champion).

Bringing to the sport a Williams (’73) liberal arts undergraduate education combined with a scientific knowledge of physiology (M.A. in P.E. Coaching, Central Michigan University ’90), Coach Farwell has devised a training plan that improves runners of all levels. His devotion to every athlete on the team helps make Williams one of the deepest Division III teams in the nation.

Farwell’s personal 23-year competitive experience included a 23rd-place finish (2:20) at the Boston Marathon and the 6-mile Williams school record.

Altogether he has coached 83 different track All-Americans to 204 All-American performances, plus relay members (11 men’s and 12 women’s All-American relays).


Williams College is one of the leading colleges in the world, ranked first among liberal arts colleges for 14 consecutive years by US News and World Report and by Forbes, second among all undergraduate institutions.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

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