Brown’s top two distance runners appear strikingly similar on paper.
Jeff Gaudette ’05 and captain Patrick Tarpy ’05 enrolled at Brown after being recruited because of their successful high school careers in small towns in Maine. On their resumes, each lists the honor of making first-team All-Ivy twice in cross country and concentrations in historical fields, though Tarpy prefers modern Europe to Gaudette’s ancient Egypt and Greece. Both sport the clean-cut look mandated by Head Cross Country Coach John Gregorek. Most recently, they qualified as individuals to compete at the NCAA National race Monday in Terre Haute, Ind.
That may be where the similarities end.
While both have dedicated the past four years of their lives to the cross country and track teams, they have taken different approaches to achieving their goals. “They’re different in some of their personality traits,” Gregorek said. “Jeff is sort of strict with his routines, and Pat tends to be a little more relaxed.”
Gaudette admits he tends to be introverted and a little on the obsessive side when it comes to running. He follows a daily schedule so precise that it rivals that of most correctional facilities, and his post-run training room routines would cause most psychologists to diagnose him with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Spending up to two hours in the weight and training rooms doing his now infamous ritual can be time-consuming, but for him, the rewards outweigh any negatives.
“I know where people are coming from when they think I’m over-the-top, because not everyone understands the competitive nature and drive I have for running,” Gaudette said. “But then they also can’t understand how I feel after a good race. There’s no greater joy for me than giving everything I have to this team.”
Gaudette said he was forced into running when his high school basketball coach cut him from the team in order to make him join the track team. While he initially fought the decision, seven years later, he cannot imagine life without it.
“After graduation I want to run for an elite development club and train for the 2008 Olympics,” Gaudette said.
With Gaudette always looking to improve, it has been a lesson in patience for both him and Gregorek. Over the years they have learned how to compromise through a process of trial and error.
“It’s easier as a coach to pull someone back than to have to drag them along,” Gregorek said. “It’s all part of that drive you need to succeed.”
In that sense, Gaudette and Tarpy do have more in common – they have the same competitive drive.
“I think that they even tend to compete in workouts,” Gregorek said. “But they help each other out and feed off each other, even if it’s unspoken.”
Due to his ability to balance all facets of collegiate life and still put the team first, Tarpy was voted as this year’s captain by his teammates, and he takes it all in stride.
His trademark is a worn, tie-dyed Maine t-shirt that he wears on runs almost daily. Even in inclement weather, the bright-green pattern is proudly on display over warmer clothes. Its presence at practice is standard, and there is something lacking when it is not a part of the pack. And, much like Tarpy, it has consistently brought energy to the team through the years.
Despite his loud shirt, Tarpy chooses to lead the team by example rather than fiery speeches. He tries to pass down what he has learned from the runners before him.
“The team is the most important part of my life here at Brown,” Tarpy said. “It is about all of the upperclassmen passing down attitudes of dedication to the younger guys.”
He’s known to be good-natured, which is a necessity in order to live in an apartment with three other male distance runners. Housemate Eamonn O’Connor ’05 explains that Tarpy’s casual attitude makes him easier to live with.
“He’s not exactly one to volunteer to do the dishes, and he should probably stay out of the kitchen,” said O’Connor. “But just like in running, when things need to be done, he gets them done.”
And Tarpy and Gaudette knew how to get things done this fall. The last time Brown had two individual qualifiers for the NCAA National meet was 1987.
“They’ve gone back and forth all season,” Gregorek said. “But I expect them both to come out of nationals as All-Americans.”
Gregorek knows that both have given everything to the team and that this week will be their reward.
“It would be selling us short to say that Jeff thinks of nothing but his running and that I don’t care,” Tarpy said. “We’re more than that. We care too much about the team to be just that. Because I know I can go on 14-milers and think of nothing but cross country and that there is much more to Jeff than running.”
Twenty teammates will anxiously wait in Providence to hear news of Gaudette and Tarpy’s race. It will be thoughts of those men that are in the front of their minds when the gun goes off.
“Running at Brown is not about running for yourself,” Gaudette said. “It’s about running for your coach and your teammates, people I consider family. Pat and I have the honor to represent them, so we will do our best to make them proud.”
So on Monday they will race one last time as cross country teammates. They began these last four years at the same point, and now they will fittingly end it together. Sometimes they just took different roads along the way.