During Trevor Dunbar’s prolific running career he has seen his share of big-time races in some pretty cool places.
Perhaps none will match what he will encounter on Sunday.
The Kodiak native is competing in the senior men’s race of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda. This is the 42nd edition of the global race that brings nearly 600 elite runners from 54 federations together for four races. Dunbar’s race goes off at 5:55 a.m. (Alaska Standard Time).
“It is such a great opportunity in such a super-competitive race,” said Dunbar via cell phone on Monday from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. “It is a new challenge that I am looking forward to, and to be in such an exotic location, I think it is going to make the experience that much more memorable.”
Dunbar, a star at Kodiak, University of Portland and University of Oregon, earned a spot on Team USA by placing sixth at the USA Cross Country Championships in early February. Rounding out Team USA’s roster are 2016 Olympian Leonard Korir, Samuel Chelanga, Stanley Kebenei and Shandrack Kipchirchir and Scott Fauble — a teammate of Dunbar’s at University of Portland.
In world cross country, a team consists of six runners and only four are scored, as compared to seven and five in the states.
“For me, I want to run well and a top 30 position would be huge … I’m kind of like a safety net,” Dunbar said.
Dunbar, 24, is just glad he is finally healthy, as a promising career was derailed by a slew of injuries. Since 2015, he has battled a sprained ankle, an iliotibial band issue in his right knee and a hip problem.
In October, Dunbar — a runner who re-wrote the Kodiak and Alaska history books — moved from Oregon to Boulder, Colorado, a place with a higher altitude that has aided in his training. He joined the Hudson Elite racing team and is coached by Brad Hudson, a former Oregon teammate of Trevor’s dad, Marcus.
“I just wanted to step up my game a notch and I was ready for a change of scenery,” Dunbar said. “I was stuck in a plague of injuries for a while and needed to have a new atmosphere to start fresh.”
While in high school, Dunbar zoomed to stardom when he circled a snow-covered Joe Floyd Track and Field in 2008. His 2-mile time of 9 minutes, 1 second, became an internet sensation.
He graduated in 2009 with a shelf full of state championship trophies and a runner-up finish at the prestigious Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals.
After high school, Dunbar earned All-American accolades at Portland and Oregon, competed in the junior race at the 2010 World Cross Country Championships in Poland, and became the first Alaskan native to break 4 minutes in the mile.
He signed a professional contract with Nike after graduating from Oregon a few years ago.
“I’m still loving it everyday,” Dunbar said. “The process of getting better is just something that I really enjoy — lacing up the running shoes and getting out the door.”
After Sunday’s race, Dunbar said he is going to take a week off before beginning his outdoor track season. He has his sights set on obtaining a World Championship qualifying time in the 5,000 at the Payton Jordan Invitational on May 5.
“You have a shelf life to your physical capabilities,” Dunbar said. “I can kind of see the finish line now as before everything was a next step.”