Med student helps UNTHSC runners train for the Cowtown

February 15, 2013

Under the watchful eye of an athlete turned med student, 29 UNT Health Science Center students and employees are training for the Cowtown. Some can "walk forever but that’s about it." Others aren’t satisfied with whipping three marathons; they’re gunning for an ultra-marathon.

One’s a librarian. One has Grave’s disease. One is raising money for a medical mission in El Salvador – despite five knee surgeries. Several are future physicians who carve their running time out of brutal med school course loads. 

They run in the rain and when it’s cold. One thing is for sure. They’re a gritty group, determined to finish their race in the Cowtown marathon. Twenty-nine strong, they cheer for each other in the UNTHSC Cowtown Running Program. It’s led by former UTA cross country and track team miler Heinz Schwarzkopf, a Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine student who’ll graduate in 2016.

The first student Schwarzkopf took on progressed in less than four months from running 50 yards at a time to completing the Dallas Marathon.

Schwarzkopf expects nothing less of this class.

"Each runner will be strong because we’re all counting on each other," he said. "Team UNTHSC will succeed because the runners have done the work, and they will be ready."

During class they do strength exercises, sprints, barefoot runs, "fartlek" interval workouts alternating slow and fast paces and challenging "tempo" runs at their fastest pace. They learn how to land properly on their feet and do strength exercises.

But his runners are learning more than proper running form. They say:

  • "I want to push myself to my limits to see what I am capable of. I’ll never find out if I don’t push myself," Huda Naeem, (TCOM ’16)
  • "I’ve learned that goals are achieved through persistence and patience with oneself," Karen Duong, (TCOM ’16)
  • "Running helps make you fit, and healthier communities start with us," Melissa Freeman, Digital Projects Technician for the Gibson D. Lewis Library.

Schwarzkopf has plans for their futures.

"My wish is for every runner to create a life of running, excellence and enthusiasm to be carried with them in all aspects of their lives, throughout their lives." 

The Health Science Center founded the Cowtown as a marathon 35 years ago and remains heavily involved today. The event has grown to include a kids’ 5K, adult 5K, a 10K, half marathon, marathon and ultra marathon, and it is the largest multi-race event in Texas. Some 30,000 runners are expected at this year’s event.

Many UNTHSC faculty, staff and students run in the races, and more than 300 will be volunteers on the race course and at the Cowtown Health Expo, where we will provide free health screenings for the public.

The Cowtown races are Feb. 23-24, and the Health Expo is Feb. 22-24 at Will Rogers Memorial Center.

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