Jeshurun Small: ‘I’m ready for summer, I’m ready for the Games — bring it on’

Trail runner’s main goal is to help people find joy in whatever their pursuit is

Jeshurun Small lives and trains full-time in Gunnison, Colorado.
Jeshurun Small/Courtesy photo

In 2021, Jeshurun Small was a graduate student at BYU, struggling to balance organic chemistry with professional running.

“I just couldn’t balance both. I’ll be real, I just burnt myself out,” he said.

Attempting to parcel 100% effort to a career and a sport was unsustainable.

“I took a step back and was like, ‘I might not be crazy (rich), but I’m able to focus on running full-time and give it my all. Let’s see how far I can take it,” the Adidas Terrex athlete recalled.

“If you can give something 100%, it’s like, why not do it?”

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Since that spring, the Western State trail team alumnus has strung together impressive results, including a win at the Desert Rats 26-miler this April and a 1:10:15 second-place finish at 4,500 feet in the Canyonlands Half Marathon.

Eschewing the standard high school to NCAA running pathway didn’t hinder Small’s development, but rather forged his purpose in the sport: to show why ones’ life work ought to flow from a joyful source.

“I love running, but what someone else loves is also really important. I want someone to enjoy what they do,” he said.

“Maybe I can share that with running.”

Path to success

As a senior at Golden High School, Small remembers being drawn to a particular Western State advertisement because of all the snow.

“I was like, ‘oh man I want to go there because I want to ski every day!'” he laughed. Eventually, he found his way to the school’s trail running team and never looked back. Coach Josh Eberly still monitors his 90-mile training weeks, which he supplements with 5-10 hours of skimo and gravel cycling.

It’s not out of necessity that either form of cross-training is completed, though Small admittedly has gotten caught up with all of the data a bike can supply.

“It’s really interesting looking at those pro tour riders; traditionally a lot of runners look at biking as a way to just spin the legs, but if you actually look at biking as a way to push watts and increase thresholds, I think it’s actually a really beneficial thing,” he said.

“It’s fun to get involved with the culture of the sport.” One can easily imagine Small taking to the bike with the same childlike happiness as some boy running through “The Drive” in his backyard, John Elway jersey and all, because everything he does is packaged with a bright smile.

Overall, there’s nothing fancy about his training — speed on Tuesdays and tempos on Saturday. “A lot of it’s very standard, NCAA stuff,” he described.

What isn’t as standard, and what Small wishes to represent, is the unabashed pursuit of running, detached from one’s personal self-worth and connected to an inner satisfaction.

“My goal, and what I would like to start is, how do we get more young runners involved? How do we portray (running) where they don’t get burnt out?” he asked.

“And they don’t go down a career path and, yeah they made a ton of money, but they hated every single day. I want more people to be happy in life.”

The daily grind of any craft, as Small — fresh off a session of multiple 5-minute pace mile-repeats at the time of this interview — can tell you, is not all fun.

“Let’s be real,” he laughed, detailing his daily life like a Nike T-shirt.

“Wake up, train, eat, go to the gym, eat, second session, eat, go to bed,” he continued.

Loving the process, for Small, is key.

“At the end of the day, I want good results, but at the same time, let’s go show some people this is a good time,” he said.

“I think it’s fun to just push the limits.”

“At least for me, taking a few years with running and just focusing on it and trying to give it my best and seeing how far I can take, I think that’s the cool thing,” said Adidas Terrex athlete Jeshurun Small.
Petter Engdahl/Courtesy photo

Going all in

At the Mountain Games, he plans on running the 5k and 10k, two races that are slightly out of his 25-50k sweetspot.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to be an all-out effort,” he said of the Vail courses.

“You’re going to be seeing black dots in your vision.”

His tip for those competing: go fast, speed up, and then finish all-out.

“I think it’s knowing how to keep pushing and pushing,” he said, noting that whoever is leading at the top of the first climb usually wins.

“Let loose on the downhills and then, those roller climbs to the finish, go as hard as you can.” He pauses.

“Just go all out.”

Small is living out those words of wisdom each day, remaining joyfully curious to see where it will take him.

“At least for me, taking a few years with running and just focusing on it and trying to give it my best and seeing how far I can take, I think that’s the cool thing,” he said.

“I’m stoked to be out there, I’m ready for summer, I’m ready for the (Mountain) Games — bring it on.”

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