Alejandro Fortoul is from MSU’s Men’s Outdoor Track and Field.
Imagine utter silence. Imagine yourself at the starting line of a race, runners on either side of you jumping soundlessly up and down preparing to take off. Only the pounding vibrations of your heart can be heard among this silence. Your body automatically positions itself at the command of the official’s “on your mark.” Your foot prepares for its launch on set and rockets in front of you at the deafening sound of the starting gun. Each steeple that comes towards you is deftly hurdled, and each water jump is taken with a bravery you never knew you had.
This is a typical experience for steeplechaser Alejandro Fortoul of the Montclair State University’s Men’s Outdoor Track and Field team.
During Saturday’s Roadrunner Invitational at Ramapo College, Alejandro Fortoul placed fourth with a personal best of 10:35:25, slicing ten seconds off his previous personal record. Fortoul’s advice on starting a steeplechase race is not to think before the race because “that can mess up the race if you think about other things than the goal at hand.”
The steeplechase is an unconventional race that consists of 3,000 meters, or seven and one-half laps, containing 28 hurdle jumps and seven water jumps. Alejandro Fortoul mentions this is his favorite event, especially for its unconventional quality. He first began doing the steeplechase when his high school coach advised him to start it as he went to compete in college.
“It is an event that gets you noticed, because it’s something others don’t do,” said Fortoul. “It’s unique.”
As unorthodox as the steeplechase might seem, Alejandro Fortoul has a simple strategy of clearing the hurdles and the water jumps, while maintaining speed throughout. “For the water pit jumps, I jump on the hurdle to get over it, but for the other hurdles I do not touch them,” said Fortoul. “I just hurdle them.” This might seem like a simple task, but it actually takes a lot of energy out of the runner as the race continues.
Though Alejandro Fortoul raced a personal best at the Roadrunner Invitational, Fortoul proclaims, “I am content, but I can do better.”
As for future achievements, Alejandro Fortoul hopes to run sub 10:20 and place All-Conference, or top 3 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. At the pace he has been running thus far, such an aspiration seems more than plausible. Fortoul will take his hopes of reaching this personal goal at this week’s New Jersey Invitational at The College of New Jersey.