Thursday, October 12, 2017
FAYETTEVILLE -- Camren Fischer bought a pair of bright yellow running shorts covered in red chile peppers after finishing the Chile Pepper Run in record time this year.
Fischer became the first Fayetteville prep runner to win in the event's 29-year history. His time of 15 minutes, 05.96 seconds is the fastest 5K ever recorded by an Arkansas high runner, and the 13th all-time fastest at the Chile Pepper Run.
At A Glance
SPORT Cross country
NOTABLE Maintains a 3.7 cumulative GPA and may pursue a career in a medical field. Also helps coach at the Special Olympics because “it’s important that people shouldn’t feel restricted to certain things because of the way they are … to see them compete and to see them so happy makes my heart warm, especially in a sport I enjoy,” he said.
In other words, the junior gets a pass for sporting those shorts.
"It's kinda cool because he won the chile pepper, so why not," said Fayetteville coach Michelle Fyfe. "I'd rep those shorts, too, if I ran a 15:06."
"Like 100 percent, I would wear them," said Bulldogs sophomore Anton Michna. "I haven't gotten a pair quite like that, but I support them 100 percent."
Fischer, the reigning Arkansas Gatorade Boys Runner of the Year, has a fair collection of colorfully loud running shorts, but said the chile pepper pair "are my craziest ones."
"I ordered them online," he said. "There was a team there wearing them. One of the kids on that team was racing with me for most of the race and I thought they looked interesting."
What's even more interesting is University of Arkansas, Fayetteville cross country coach Chris Bucknam called Fischer as soon as the NCAA allowed contact with junior prospects on Sept. 1. Georgetown, Northern Arizona and others are actively recruiting Fischer as well.
"Coach Bucknam has never recruited an Arkansas distance runner, so for him to be recruiting Cam as a junior is a big deal," Fyfe said. "He texted me after talking to Cam and said, 'He's on my A list,' so Buck's really interested in him."
Despite the wild shorts, unrivaled success and recruiting attention, Fischer is humble. He didn't purchase a pair of shorts that mirrored the name of a prestigious race he'd just won to brag or be flashy. He simply thought they looked cool. Proof of his humbleness is found in his most memorable moment as a runner -- a race he did not win.
Fischer was a freshman, and Collin Pilkington was a senior. The Bulldogs trailed Bentonville High in the team standings at the 7A state track meet at Conway. They needed points in the final event, the 3,200-meter run, to complete a triple crown after winning cross country and indoor state championships earlier in the school year.
Running on fumes after going "all out" on the 1,600-meter run, Fischer finished second, and just seconds behind Pilkington.
"We were were just so happy at the end," Fischer said. "We ran into each other and gave each other a hug and we turned around and watched the other Fayetteville guys finishing.
"We knew we won it. That was just the happiest moment for us."
As a young runner, Fischer learned from Pilkington. Now, it's Fischer's turn to teach talented underclassmen like Michna.
Fyfe said watching that baton being passed is "a really cool process to see first-hand."
On Monday, Fischer finished a seven-mile run at Harmon Field. He passed the ticket booth as he sprinted into the sun-soaked stadium before making a final kick halfway around Ogden-Trumbo Memorial Track.
Seconds behind was Michna.
"Coming into high school, I didn't really have big-time running expectations," Michna said. "Then I had the opportunity to be around Cam all the time, and I wouldn't be where I am without him being there to chase and always look up to."
Fischer, who logs about 40 miles most weeks, used to play baseball, basketball and football. He had ran a couple of races each year with his parents, Kim and Tim Fischer, when he was younger, so he decided to try cross country as a seventh grader at Woodland Junior High. Because he played football, too, afternoons were spent bouncing from one practice to another.
Game day also was race day, meaning Fischer would run a race and then arrive to his football game in time to play defensive end for the second half.
In the end, Fischer's passion -- and talent -- for running resulted in his focus on one sport.
"It's one of the toughest sports -- it really takes some mental and physical strength at the same time," Fischer said. "There's just something about it that I like. I like to go out there and push myself and see what I can do."
He'll be easy to spot now, with those bright yellow shorts.
Sports on 10/12/2017
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