Mead (Spokane, Wash.) cross country star Andrew Gardner didn’t let an untied shoelace distract him from taking the Class 4A individual state championship last season. In fact, he smoked the course with a time of 15:02.3 — 14 seconds ahead of the competition.
The Ethopian-born Gardner topped his season by finishing 11th nationally at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, just another convincing reason (among many) the senior was named the Gatorade Washington Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Next fall, Gardner will run off to the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he’ll compete in cross country and track. And we bet he’ll still enjoy filling his ears with songs by the The Fresh Prince, one of many artists that make up his pre-race playlist. Gardner told us all about it.
What’s the role of music in getting you ready to run?
Gardner: Music encourages and relaxes me. I like to listen to upbeat music because my stepping follows the beat.
What’s your playlist selection process?
I have [approximately] 1,000 songs on my iPod and another thousand on my computer. I rate all of my music in my iPod, so when I’m going on a longer run, I play my ranked music, which is all upbeat.
Do you think about certain songs when you run?
I usually train with music [because] I run by myself. When I hear certain songs, I'll have flashbacks of where I was [during a run].
If I picked up your iPod right now, what would I find?
My iPod has a lot of songs from different genres, but mostly I listen to hip-hop. I like Kid Ink (“Hell & Back”) and Lil Wayne. His beats are uptempo, and I relate them to the fastest part of a race — the homestretch.
Outside of hip-hop, what else fills your ears?
I like some country — Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw — though I’d never run to it, unless maybe on a super slow Sunday run.
What on your iPod might catch people off guard?
I have stuff from the 90s, like Fresh Prince and other music by Will Smith — it’s good stuff. I also have some music by ’N Sync and Billy Joel (“We Didn’t Start the Fire”), and “Eye of the Tiger” is on my list.