Illini of the Week for Nov. 3: Dylan Lafond

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Illini of the Week for Nov. 3: Dylan Lafond

IOTW Dylan Lafond.

IOTW Dylan Lafond.

Mitchell Fransen

IOTW Dylan Lafond.

Mitchell Fransen

Mitchell Fransen

IOTW Dylan Lafond.

By Tatiania Perry, Contributing writer

From competing in the Olympic trials to running the fastest 8k time in Illinois men’s cross-country history, Dylan Lafond does not see running as a sport but rather a lifestyle.

The senior has spent the bulk of his life engrossed in running, and his hard work shines through the Illinois record books. Lafond has compiled two All-Big Ten honors, three All-American accolades and multiple broken school records.

His second All-Big Ten accomplishment came this weekend when he ran a 24:56 8k race, good for 10th overall. His helped his team to a sixth-place finish, who will be in action in a little over a week, competing in the NCAA Midwest Regional.

Since taking running more seriously in high school, the Olympics had been a dream of Lafond’s. He looked up to Olympic athletes, hoping that one day he would get there.

His dream started to look more like a reality upon his arrival to Illinois. The coaches saw his potential to compete at that level. When the opportunity rolled around for Rio 2016, Lafond redshirted his 2016 outdoor track season to train.

Lafond said having the chance to compete alongside the best athletes in the world at the trials was an experience like no other.

But at the height of all these accomplishments, Lafond’s favorite memory was the first time he received All-American in cross country last year. Though he received the honor in track a few times before, this was a special feat.

“I’ve always thought cross-country was the toughest sport to get All-American honors,” Lafond said. “It’s not about what you’ve done in the past or what you’ve done in the few hours before the race, it’s the top-40 best people in that race that day at that time.”

Lafond explained that running is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. As a runner, he essentially competes in three different seasons: cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track, with approximately 35 days off a year.

“I think I can speak for all distance athletes; when I do get to see that two weeks off, it’s more mental than physical,” Lafond said. “It’s kind of unwinding and distressing, hanging out with family and friends, doing hobbies reading books and just kind of passing time without any stress.”

Though he values the time off, there is nothing Lafond would do. Not only is it a legacy thing in his family — his father is a big runner — but an opportunity to see the country, gather experiences and meet new people.

“Running is everything to me,” Lafond said. “I plan my things around running because that’s what means the most to me; [it’s] my passion.”

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