Jacob Donohue: Redwood Empire runner of the year

Donohue running towards the finish line (Photo: Photographer Michael Lucid)

by Jungyeon Lee, staff writer

After running the fastest three-mile in Sonoma County high school cross country history at the beginning of the season this year, Jacob Donohue, a senior at Maria Carrillo High school, was named the Redwood Empire Runner of the Year for 2021. 

Donohue’s story starts over six years ago. Being a super active person, he played basketball and baseball in middle school. They weren’t his type of sports, so he started to run competitively in seventh grade when he started cross country at Rincon Valley Middle School. 

He began to take running more seriously in eighth grade when he traveled with the cross country team to different states and competed with other middle schoolers.

All of his work culminated in September when he set a new county runners’ record for the three-mile at Woodbridge invitational. 

Woodbridge is a meet in Southern California, and it’s where Donohue beat the three-mile record. It’s the biggest high school cross country meet in the nation. The races are organized by difficulty and grade level. For example, there are freshman and sophomore races, and races distinguished by their level of difficulty, such as the gold races. Donohue ran in the “rated” race, the level above gold and second-fastest in the meet behind “sweepstakes.” It was about 9 p.m., and the runners were illuminated by colored lights. 

Jacob Donohue and the rest of the cross country team ran in the L. A North Coast Sports Park, which is a flat three-mile course. According to Donohue, it was one of the cross country team’s favorite meets of the year. 

To train for the cross country courses, the team plans their time so the students don’t run as hard as they can every single day. They usually have two to three workout days a week, and there are some recovery runs in between. In some weeks, Donohue has “run upwards of 70 miles a week to train for this.”

The pandemic and distance learning last year did affect many, including the cross country team. Donohue says his sophomore track season and his junior cross country season were canceled, so “it was really hard —not necessarily to train—but to find the motivation to train. It was definitely less fun as well.” 

Before Donohue beat the three-mile record for Sonoma county, he actually had the time in mind that he wanted to run, which was 14:40:5, but he didn’t realize that it would be a new record. His coach told Donohue about his achievement after the run. 

The cross country team was happy when they heard Donohue broke a record, but the team was used to it because they’re always breaking records.

Noe Vieyra is a senior in Maria Carrillo and a training partner of Donohue, and he described Jacob as an intelligent and confident person. Vieyra said, “People know, but it’s not like a super big deal. We’re always breaking records. So whenever someone does something like that it’s not a huge accomplishment because we’re used to it already.”

Donohue’s parents are very proud of him as well. Both of his parents help with the cross country team often, so they know how racing and the cross country season operate. But perhaps most importantly, they know how special it is to Donohue. 

Donohue will leave a legacy here at Carrillo. As track season arrives, the school can look forward to another stellar performance from our star runner.

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