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Business School is a Marathon - and a Sprint

By Lindsey Anderson

Michelle Harburg competes in the Nation's Triathlon in D.C. in September.

Michelle Harburg competes in the Nation's Triathlon in D.C. in September.

Fall marathon season is picking up speed; Washington, D.C. hosted the annual Marine Corps Marathon on Halloween. We talked with a few Kogod alumni, students, and staff who have biked, run, and swam incredible distances and asked them how studying business is like being a competitive athlete. 

Here’s what they say:

Alumnus marathon runner: Andrew Colbert, BSBA ’03 

“I would equate the ‘Why do I do this to myself?’ feeling at about mile 23 in Tucson last year to many self induced all-nighters at AU where I needed to finish a project of some kind,” Colbert said.

Colbert, who says he’s not much of a runner, takes his dog for a 2.5-mile run four mornings a week, runs a six-mile run with a running club each Wednesday, and runs a long trail on the weekend.

“If I'm feeling banged up, I won't run hard or far but I'll always pull myself together in order to get my dog some fresh air,” said Colbert, who works in sales in Arizona for Liquid Environmental Solutions, which operates a network of wastewater recycling facilities.

Alumnus cyclist: Alex Yale, BSBA '09 

“While biking, whether to prepare for a pothole, a hill, or another biker you always have to be looking ahead,” Yale said. “While a business student, it's equally important to be looking ahead to best position yourself for where you want to be in the future.”

Yale found cycling when he was looking for a form of exercise that he enjoyed. He hated the gym, but loved being outside. So he took up biking. Now, Yale bikes about 50 miles each weekend when the weather is nice. He made it a goal to finish a “century ride,” a 100-mile ride, and just achieved it in six hours at the 22nd Annual Sea Gull Century in Maryland Oct. 9.

After working as an analyst for Deloitte Consulting's Strategy and Operations practice in D.C., Yale will take on a new position as a business analyst in Deloitte’s U.S. Global Office Nov. 1.

Student triathlete: Rick Morse, MBA '12 

“Being a business student is like being a triathlete because while you're focused on the task at hand, you're still thinking about what's coming up next and how you need to change your approach to achieve the best outcome,” Morse said.

Morse's first triathlon was the 2009 Nation's Triathlon, which includes an almost mile-long swim through the Potomac River, biking 26 miles past the White House and the monuments, and a 6.2-mile run around the Tidal Basin. Since then, Morse has participated in three triathlons, including the 2010 Nation’s Triathlon.

“My favorite part of a triathlon is the incredible sense of accomplishment you get towards the end of the race when the finish line is in sight and spectators are cheering your efforts,” Morse said. After graduation, he plans to work in international development or international corporate strategy and development.

Student triathlete: Michelle Harburg, part-time MBA student 

“Being a triathlete, working full time, having a social life and also going to school applies to business school because it is all about time management,” Harburg said. “In business school in order to succeed you have to be very good at consistency, as well as time management. Both of these principles apply to training for a triathlon.”

Harburg's triathlon participation stems from her work as the Program Director of ACHIEVE Kids Tri, a summer camp for kids ages 9-14 to learn about fitness and nutrition through triathlons. The organization offers four three-week camps in D.C. Wards 5, 7, and 8.

“I ran for undergrad, but by 2007 was looking for something new to do, so I figured why not triathlons?” Harburg said. “Interestingly enough, I am now a much faster runner. I think all the cross strengthening made me faster.”

Staff marathon runner: Tracy Dodge, Associate Director of Programming and Student Activities 

“Running a marathon is like working at Kogod because both require focus and commitment,” Dodge said. “My job, like running a marathon, is both challenging and rewarding. At a marathon and at Kogod, I meet people who love what they do."

Dodge recently ran her third full marathon, the Wine Country marathon in California. She began running 13 years ago, working from her way up from half marathons in 2003 to full marathons in 2006. Running is a fun, low-maintenance way to exercise, she said.

“All you need are sneakers,” Dodge said. “There is no equipment or membership required!”