Hoffstaetter carves out place on cross country team
By Barbara Boxleitner
Tim Hoffstaetter has had to race well to stay in the lineup for the Roanoke College men’s cross country team.
Because COVID canceled the 2020 fall season, when he was a virtual learner, the Smithfield High School graduate is in his first year running for a program that has a roster of 23.
In his first three races, the sophomore finished fourth among the Roanoke entries in two meets and placed sixth in one other.
“He’s worked very hard for us,” said Tim Smith, head cross country coach. “He’s done pretty well.”
Hoffstaetter has been a top performer despite a slight injury to his right knee before the season started. “I took a weird step while running,” he said, “and heard a pop. “It was a random thing that no one could have predicted it.”
He said he attended physical therapy in Smithfield and has been doing exercises to prevent a recurrence. He ices both knees after practices and meets and soaks in the cold tub weekly.
He ran a career-best time of 28 minutes, 44.5 seconds during the Oct. 1 Louisville Classic 8K, which featured a field of 62 teams. He placed 240th among 340 finishers, behind three more experienced Roanoke entries.
“This is the first big race of the season,” he said. “I was surprised. I was hoping to go sub 29. I thought it would be close to 28:59.”
He achieved the personal best after missing a race the prior weekend because of a viral infection. He decided to rest to be ready for the Louisville Classic, where he executed his strategy.
“My strategy is to get out fast the first mile. After that, you can come back to running a normal pace,” he said. “It was getting out as quick as you can because of how many people you’re running with. You don’t want to get stuck behind anyone.”
“It’s a really enjoyable course,” he said. “It was super flat. It was super fast.”
Still, the huge pack of competitors was trying. “It was definitely a tough race because of how fast you have to go and then you have to slow down,” said Hoffstaetter, whose season-best mile pace of 5:46.9 contributed to him being “extra sore” after the race.
“My kick is definitely the weakest part of my running,” he said. “I got passed by two people. I did a lot of passing right before the end.”
He will compete in the 3K to 5K during the indoor track season, the coach said, and in the 5K and 10K during the outdoor.
“Cross country is my preferred sport. It’s a little more exciting to run on laps and tracks,” Hoffstaetter said. “I like the speed race a little bit more because it’s over quicker and hurts a little less. But I’m better at distance.”
“Tim is a true long-distance runner. As we peak later in the season, he’ll do really well,” Smith said. “I’m really, really excited to see what he does.”