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Grace Forbes: Lightning Fast

Courtesy Rice Athletics

By Daniel Schrager     2/18/20 9:34pm

Grace Forbes has been outrunning just about everyone she’s faced this season. But, according to Forbes, the freshman track star who has taken Conference USA by storm, that hasn’t always been the case.

“In my grade school years, I was actually the worst of [my] family [at running],” Forbes said. “I have [two] sisters, and we were all running at a pretty high level, except I was always the runt of the group, always the slowest.”

Forbes used to have two siblings who were faster than her; now, only a few people in the entire conference can make that claim. Forbes, who finished fifth in the 5K race at the C-USA championships in November, said that the competition helped fuel her to reach a “higher level.”

Forbes was recently named the C-USA Female Track Athlete of the Week for two consecutive weeks after recording the fastest indoor mile (4:40.69) among all NCAA Division I freshmen and the No. 2o indoor 3,000 meter time (9:13.64) in all of DI. In the fall, Forbes also finished No. 87 in the 6K race at the NCAA cross-country championships.

According to Forbes, track runs in her family. Both of her parents were runners, as were both of her sisters, including one, Madeline, who runs here at Rice. Even her dog, a golden retriever named for the first-ever marathon runner Pheidippides, is a track athlete in her own right, running four miles a day. Forbes said that she draws inspiration from her family.

“Definitely people at home, so my family, my mom and my dad,” Forbes said. “They’re definitely the main motivators.”

Most of all, however, Forbes said that she draws her inspiration from her late grandfather — also a runner. She said  he was once the runner-up to former record-breaking distance runner Don Lash. She wears his lucky sweatshirt — a souvenir from the 1998 Rose Bowl — to every single race as a way to honor him. Before each race, she said she reminds herself to “do it for gramps.”

“My true inspiration is my grandpa,” Forbes said. “Right before every race I think about him.”

In addition to her family, Forbes said she credits both her faith and high school coach for motivating her.

“I would say one of my main motivators is my high school coach Bill Coren,” Forbes said. “He’s really made a big impact on my life. I think he deserves a shoutout.”

Despite her family’s many track roots, Forbes initially took to soccer. She participated in both soccer and track for much of her life, and it wasn’t until the end of her junior year of high school that running finally won out. Eventually, she said, she began to realize how much she enjoyed running.

“I realized that I truly had a lot more fun running. It was really cool to test my limits,” Forbes said, “My dad has this quote: ‘Any day with a run in it is a good day.’ And it really relates to me. Any day that I’m running, that feeling of accomplishment after a good run, it brightens up the rest of your day, it makes you feel like you’ve done something a little extra that day.”

With soccer out of the fold, she picked up cross-country and began to train for track year round. She’s improved rapidly since then. Since getting to Rice, she says she’s lowered her 3K time by nearly a minute, and her mile time by four seconds, which she credits to her high school coach Coren and Rice women’s cross-country and track head coach Jim Bevan. Yet even with her success, Forbes said that she still feels the need to prove herself. 

“I want to prove to everyone on that track that I’m worthy of being a competitor there,” Forbes said. “That I’m worthy of running at the DI collegiate level.”

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