Q & A with Noah Droddy: Cross country All-American and internet sensation

382
PHOTO COURTESY OF DEPAUW UNIVERSITY

Noah Droddy is a man of many names: “hero,” “majestic,” “more than a meme,” and “the most American athlete to ever live.” However, before his appearance at the Olympic trials this past summer, Droddy was just a guy who liked to run and was pretty good at it.

Droddy graduated from DePauw University in 2013 with two All-American titles under his belt after multiple appearances at the Division III cross country national championships. He then moved out to Boulder, Colo. where he linked up with the Olympic development running group, Roots Running Project. Many half-marathons and 10-kilometer races later, Droddy found himself toeing the starting line at the 2016 10-kilometer Olympic Trials, standing next to some of the nation’s most elite runners.

Droddy with his black mustache, long hair and sunglasses became an internet sensation in the running community after the trials. Despite his humble beginnings as a Division III runner, Droddy is now the inspiration behind Halloween costumes and t-shirts alike, and even appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial in early November. Although Droddy wasn’t able to cement a spot in the Olympic Games this past summer, it is unlikely that this is the last we’ve seen of him (and his mustache, for that matter).

TDP: What was it like to become an overnight internet sensation after the trials? Were you prepared for that kind of feedback?

ND: No, not really, it felt like it was coming out of nowhere, but fun to pay attention to! My parents and I definitely got a kick out of it.

TDP: What was the atmosphere at the trials like?

ND: [The trials] were in Eugene, Ore. which is a really cool place because it’s full of knowledgeable track fans. It’s actually called “Track Town USA,” so the stands were full of people who love track. The whole city was buzzing because the best athletes in the country were all in one place. It was really electric.

TDP: How do you think DePauw contributed to your post-collegiate running career?

ND: Coach Kori [DePauw’s head cross country coach] really taught me that I can achieve big things. Sophomore year, I was in the top three on the team, but not the best. One day after practice, [coach] came over to me and told me I could make nationals if that was what I wanted to do. It blew my mind, I remember that very clearly. That year ended up being the first year I made nationals. So now, when someone tells me I’m capable of something, I believe it. [DePauw] taught me a lot about pursuing running to my potential. Over my four years I gradually increased mileage, so I left DePauw knowing my body had some good years left in the tank.

TDP: What is it like to be representing the Official Pizza of the NCAA [Pizza Hut]?

ND: That was a one time thing. I think there were 30 D1 championships across the country and they had [athletes representing them] at each one. I was brought in for the D1 Cross Country Nationals to kind of be the cross country guide.

TDP: I saw that Pizza Hut challenged you to a race,how did that go?

ND: Yeah, that was for an ad, like a social media commercial. [The premise was] can I run a 10k faster than Pizza Hut can make and deliver a pizza? I got out there [on-set at Terre Haute] Friday for promotional stuff, and Saturday was the race. I ended up losing. To be fair I was set up to lose, it was written into the story. I can humbly accept defeat sometimes!

TDP: Do you have anything else in the works over the next year or so?

ND: The grind continues. I will still be out in Boulder training with Roots Running Project. The Olympic trials are obviously the goal every four years. Next year won’t change that much. I will probably fall into the same training pattern as this year without the trials.