Colby Mehmen is living in his blue 1976 Chevrolet camper van, Pursuing His Olympic Dream
Colby Mehmen's daily routine is simple: Wake up, run, eat, sleep, work, and do it all again tomorrow. Sounds like the lifestyle of a sponsored pro, but for the 24-year-old reigning Dallas Marathon champ, it is the pursuit of his Olympic Marathon Trials dream-something that he's living out while living in his blue 1976 Chevrolet camper van.
The van has been his home since his fifth year at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he competed on the cross-country and track teams. Prior to that, the Texas native had been good, but never great. Then he met his college teammates, who showed him what it took to compete at a higher level.
This required pushing mileage into the triple digits, starting with 100-mile weeks his freshman year and building up to as much as 150 in a week. The fruits of his labors were there, as he posted his best times in the 10K (29:34) and 5K (14:24). Yet with an option for a fifth year, he decided take his final year off.
Without a scholarship, money would be tight, so he came up with a plan.
"I bought the van and just lived in it for my fifth year," Mehmen said. "But my life was simple: I'd run, get back in the van, change, go to class, eat, and sleep. It was also nice that I had the rec center to shower."
Mehmen's college experience turned out to be a good road map for successful nomadic living. Cooking simple meals-Mehmen shoots for 4500 calories a day with meals like tacos, Cream of Wheat, rice, and barbecued chicken-was easy on his propane stove. When he wasn't running, eating, or sleeping, he was working part time, splitting his time among a running store, coaching online, and his own apparel company, Nomad Running Co.
The only thing lacking in his van-dwelling existence is a fridge, something he is still looking to remedy. Currently, he freezes food in a cooler.
For some, this may be a ludicrous monastic lifestyle of simplicity. For Mehmen, he wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's amazing; I can park near any of my favorite running spots, wake up, and just run them," Mehmen said. "It's an adventure every day. I'm exploring things day in and day out."
His next chance to qualify will come at Grandma's Marathon in June. With little else to worry about right now, Mehmen will continue on in his van, going after his dream.
"Right now, the plan is to run the Trials, and I'm not sure how far I'll take it after that, but [I still have] two or three years left in the van," he said. "I only get one chance to do this in my life, so I'm going to take advantage of it."
posted Saturday June 1st
by Andrew Dawson