In elementary school, senior Tim Delcourt found one of his passions early, with the help of some very influential mentors.
“One was a teacher and one was just part of a running club there and they were really good in Canada, like national champions,” Delcourt said. “They were at a really elite level and they kind of just brought me into the sport.”
He found himself caught in the running world and became hooked on the feeling.
It all started at the Vancouver Sun Run during his elementary days. The 10k road race brought people from all over, and Delcourt was given the opportunity to meet elite runners.
“The mentors that I had took me to the pre sun run event at the top of a downtown Vancouver building and I met a bunch of really cool athletes at an elite level,” Delcourt said.
This was the moment Delcourt realized he wanted to continue running.
While his passion developed at a young age, Delcourt did not become dedicated until ninth grade.
As he began to upgrade his new training regime, Delcourt set his sights on one thing.
“I set a goal to get a scholarship and compete in university and get a degree, because no one else in my family has done that,” Delcourt said. “No one else had gone to college, and I was the first one, and I wanted to be able to pay for it without having to put the pressure on them.”
He began his college search in Canada, but broadened his horizons once he realized there would be more financial assistance if he traveled to the United States.
Delcourt pursued Idaho when he realized that the running program was already home to several Canadian athletes. He spoke to his high school coach and they both agreed to make the call to previous head coach Wayne Phipps and schedule a visit.
“One of my mentors said that when I left the campus after my visit I would know that was where I wanted to be,” Delcourt said. “I knew this was the place for me right after I walked off after my visit.”
In addition to his intuition, Delcourt fell for the small town charm.
“I think it’s just the community, like the town,” Delcourt said. “Everyone is very nice — everyone is friendly and have fun together.”
His first cross-country season as a Vandal went off without a hitch, until he hit a road block that completely altered his course.
“I came in my freshman year at the best shape of my life and I was just on a complete high,” Delcourt said. “Then I got some shin splints that developed into really serious shin splints that took me out for a couple months.”
A serious case of shin splints was only the beginning of a long road to recovery.
Shortly after he recovered from the shin splints, Delcourt developed an issue in his Achilles tendon that soon turned into a chronic issue.
“I’ve been dealing with that for like three years now,” Delcourt said. “it’s just kind of been going off and on, and no one knows what’s going on.”
He had different options for recovery, like changing his running stride or surgery. Ultimately, he was left without an answer.
“In the beginning, it was more in and out — flaring up,” Delcourt said. “Now I think it’s just never going to be 100 percent, but I think I’m getting to the point where I can start to train healthy.”
The injury has not affected his feelings for the taxing sport.
“Sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it. Its great at sometimes and then sometimes its just really tough,” Delcourt said. “Not to complain about any of it, I don’t regret any of it, but it can get you really down really fast and it can get you like really high really fast, and I think that’s the biggest challenge for me, but the thing I like most about it too.”
He said he enjoys the atmosphere compared to other sports.
“It’s strictly a human performance aspect rather than technique and skill,” Delcourt said. “I like how you can go and test your own limits and anyone can do that for themselves out on a track. Your time is your time and that’s who you are as a person in track I guess.”
With the cross-country season in full swing, Delcourt said he has one thing on his mind.
“My number one goal is be healthy,” Delcourt said. “
I know that I just need to try to stay healthy and not worry about the external pressures, like who beats who on the team, and where you are on the team, and just think ‘Hey, be humble, be healthy and whatever happens, happens.’”
Delcourt said he would rather focus on doing the best that he can for himself and the team.
“In racing I just really need to focus on hitting the effort I need to hit and not stressing or worrying about things,” Delcourt said. “Make things simple, you’re just running, it’s simple.”
In his last year as a Vandal, Delcourt said he is excited to see the start of a young but competitive team. He said the team has potential because it comprised of such young competitors.
“I think it could be a really good team in the next few years, and I think being there at the start of it would be pretty cool,” Delcourt said.
Idaho assistant coach Travis Floeck said he believes Delcourt is a strong leader.
“I think he’s been a leader the whole time he’s been here, but I think he has an even better understanding now in his fourth year of what that message needs to be.” Floeck said.
As the season continues, Floeck said he looks forward to seeing what Delcourt can do throughout the season.
“I know he’s already contributing with his leadership but now I think he’s fortunately in a position to contribute with his legs over the next six to eight weeks of the season,” Floeck said.
Mihaela Karst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mihaela_jo