University of Georgia Athletics

By Jean Frierson
Personal editor

A little over a year ago, Wesley John sat down for his first quick chat, during which he casually mentioned late in the interview that he had recently married his high school sweetheart and fellow long-distance runner from Georgia, Nicole Jean.

While Nicole no longer races for the Bulldogs, John, a junior from nearby Watkinsville, is still going strong. He and the Georgia men’s and women’s cross country teams will be in action this weekend in Louisville, Ky., in the Live in the Lou Cross Country Classic.

In a recent quick chat, John talked about how his young teammates are reacting to his marriage, finding his best distances in running, fishing and more. Here is part of what he had to say:

Frisian: How do your young teammates feel about running with a married man?

John: It’s quite funny. They’ll ask little questions and then I can tell they’re pretty baffled about it.

Frisian: When you started running, how long did it take you to find your sweet spot in terms of distances?

John: I think it only took about a year. When I started track and field it was really because I didn’t play football or basketball or whatever, so I thought I’d take that back and work on speed. I also participated in the sprint events (in high school), as I did the 100 and the 200 (meters), but also in the same competition, I did the mile. I kind of did it all and realized pretty quickly that I was a lot more competitive in the long stuff.

Frisian: Do you have an idea of ​​the ideal distance for you now?

John: I think the mile. I feel like the mile is a big distance, and I’m really excited about that this year too. I work more on speed and form, so I think it will be really good this year.

Frisian: The mile, because it is both far but not too far, how difficult is it to dial so that you are empty when you reach the finish line?

John: I think at the end of the third round, I already feel like that. It’s not too difficult – the first two laps it’s really really fast and you want to be in the right rhythm. The third lap is just kind of a hold, like trying not to slow down, and then the last lap, it turns around and your brain is like, everything I have from now on.

Frisian: So what does that last lap look like when you’re already in extremis? Are you thinking or trying not to think?

John: I was about to say, it’s like you can’t even think about that moment. You are just a little [laughs] running around and you’re in so much pain it’s like you’re floating and locked up at the same time. When it’s done well, you can definitely pick it up a bit towards the end. I’ve done a few mile races where I feel like the last 100m is an entire lap – not ideal for finishing a fast race like that

Frisian: Do you see yourself doing a marathon or two one day?

John: Yeah, I would – that would be a lot of fun. People say, just do it for fun, but I think if I’m doing it for fun, I’d try to do it as hard as I can, otherwise I wouldn’t really feel like I really got it lived.

I could run a marathon and then say to myself, let’s see how far I can run.

Frisian: And then go on the road to the ultramarathon?

John: Maybe, just to see what I can handle.

Frisian: How much mileage do you do per week now?

John: Usually 75-80 miles every week.

Frisian: When you hear about 50 mile races, can you even understand that?

John: Not really, mainly because the farthest I’ve ever gone is around 18. But I feel like if I studied it and watched how people do it, like refueling and pacing, because I feel like the main thing is to start slow. I know myself and I would say, I feel good at this (fast) pace, but when you’re at 30 miles, I don’t think it’s going to work.

If I ever did one, I would want to go somewhere really pretty. That would be the thing – I don’t think I would want to do it in a random place. I would like to make it a trip and tell myself, I’m going to run somewhere I’ve never been before so the miles don’t seem so brutal.

Frisian: With that in mind, do you have a place you’d like to travel?

John: I would think of Colorado or Montana, places where I always wanted to run and see everything. I was able to go to Oregon this year and watch the world championships, and even racing there (in Eugene) was really cool. But I think the mountains in Colorado would be really cool for me. That’s what I’ve always wanted to go see.

Frisian: What do you do to get away from school and run?

John: I would say hanging out with teammates is how most of us relax. Either that or fishing. I really like to go fishing, but it’s more of a summer thing. When I’m here my free time is quite limited so I like to hang out with a friend or something.

Frisian: Do you have a good fishing story? Or is there a place you would like to go fishing one day?

John: I really want to go trout fishing in the Pacific Northwest and catch real trout, like huge ones. That would be really cool for me. I have a buddy who really got into fly fishing this summer and it looks really cool so I would like to learn how to do that at some point. We went to Helen (Ga.) this summer and had a great time catching trout there.

I tried fly fishing once and thought to myself, I’m going to need a lot more practice if I’m really going to catch anything doing this.

(This Q&A has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)


Deputy director of sports communication Jean Frierson is the UGA Sports Team Writer and Curator of the ITA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame. You can find his work at: Frierson Files. He is also on Twitter: @FrersonFiles and @ITAHallofFame.