Off the Track With Kelly Stalpes

Go Gophers! Stalpes did not start running the 400 until college.
Go Gophers!
Stalpes did not start running the 400 until college.
Go Gophers!

April 19, 2012

Golden Gopher senior Kelly Stalpes (Plymouth, Minn.) does a lot of running around in circles—she competes in both the 400-meter hurdles and the 4x400-meter relay. The Wayzata High School graduate, as a senior captain, keeps a close eye on the rest of her team in addition to preparing for her own events. GopherSports.com caught up to Stalpes to ask her about her beginnings in the 400-meter events, her goals for the season, and her favorite music to listen to before a race.

GopherSports: Talk about being one of the team captains.
Kelly Stalpes: It’s been really fun. It’s my last year, and it’s been really exciting to watch all the underclassmen develop and work their way through the season. We have a really good group of upperclassmen, so we have a lot of leadership among all of them.

GS: The 4x400 team ran a fast time last weekend. Can you talk a little about what you saw in that race?
KS: That was really awesome for this early in the season. Everyone ran really relaxed and looked really strong, but we all know that we can run a lot faster, so it was really encouraging to see it start that well and see how much further we can still go from there.

GS: What are some of your goals for the rest of the season?
KS: The last few meets I’ve had a couple of good technical process days, but I’m really ready to break through and get the faster times. The workouts have been going really well and we’ve been running really fast there. I know all the girls on this team are ready to blow out a good time one of these next few meets now that our training’s really kicking in.

GS: How did you first get into your events?
KS: According to my parents, I got into the hurdles after watching the Olympics. I was a gymnast, and decided (hurdles) looked a lot like a skill in gymnastics and really wanted to do that because it looked fun to do while running. As far as the 400, that actually happened in college. My coach converted me to that after I got here. I was more of a shorter hurdler before.

GS: What was the transition to the 400 like?
KS: It was pretty tough, actually. I think the first time (head coach Matt Bingle) told me, I thought he was kidding. I wasn’t really expecting that. I guess the farthest I’ve ever run was a 600 in a race, and the first time he had me do that I was pretty shocked, too, to hear I had to run that many laps when I was used to running 100, maybe 200 meters.

GS: Which event group on your team is the weirdest?
KS: I would say that the jumpers are kind of the quirkiest group of everyone. They just have a lot of really loud, funny personalities that keep us entertained.

GS: What are some of your pre-race rituals?
KS: I really like to listen to ‘80s music. That’s kind of my pump-up. Anything of that era. Other than that, I kind of have a pre-race warm-up routine that I do in the same order.

GS: What are some of your favorite ‘80s bands or songs?
KS: Some of them kind of expand into the ‘70s, too, but I like Duran Duran, Fleetwood Mac, REO Speedwagon. I’ve got some “Eye of the Tiger” in there. Any of the good pump-up ones.

GS: What are some of your favorite foods?
KS: Well, my all-time favorite food would be donuts, but that wouldn’t be my favorite pre-meet food. Pre-race, I actually don’t like pasta the day before. I like more meats and vegetables and things like that. I don’t really like the huge potful of carbs.

GS: What are some of your hobbies outside of track?
KS: I still work at an animal hospital, so I like to do that or volunteer at different animal shelters. But we also have a lot of team volunteer events, like we’ll do Feed My Starving Children. But when I’m not doing any of that, when I’m just relaxing, I like to watch TV on DVD—any TV show. I can watch as many episodes as I want in any order.

GS: Have you seen any good movies lately?
KS: I actually have not. I haven’t been to a movie in a long time. I’d like to go see “The Hunger Games.” I’ve read all the books, but I haven’t seen it yet.

GS: Who is your favorite “Hunger Games” character?
KS: I actually really liked Peeta a lot, because he was tough, but yet he had this calming side to him and kind of calmed everyone down.