Barros, now 63, lives in El Paso Texas, and has had to fight his whole life against discrimination and injustice. An American Indian, Apache, he states, “I was bullied in middle school by Hispanics, in high school by African Americans, and bused to a European American high school as a senior. I had to fight all my life even within my tribe. But I am grateful, as it has been a long and wonderful journey.”
Career-profession? I am the Head Boys and Girls Track and Cross Country Coach for Socorro High School, where 81% of students are economically disadvantaged. Sports are a big part of the school, and we have many distinguished state-level athletes. Many of them go on to colleges and universities, in most cases the first in their family to do so. I also teach financial literacy.
When did you start running and why? I started running In January of 1973 when I was 16 (born in 1957) because when I rode the public bus to school or home, I was chased or beaten by other students (see above) so I just ran to school or home.
How much did you run in your peak years? Now? During my college years at UNC I averaged 3,500 miles a year, or an average of 80 miles a week. But the miles went down to an average of 67 a week off-season. Now I run about 2,100 miles a year or roughly 40 miles a week.
Top/Memorable performances? I ran the Frontier Days Championship Half Marathon at Cheyenne, Wyoming at altitude and a hilly course in 1:06.01. I participated in the World Masters Track and Field Championships at Sacramento placing 16th in the 10K.
My proudest moments however are not what I have accomplished in my races. My proudest moments have been helping my young runners by building their character and helping them receive running scholarships.
How much are you running and cross-training now? I don’t cross train. However, I will lift weights once a week, 5 sets of different movements of light weights. I am not a social participant in running events except after major championships. I used to run with my top boys in high school, but now I can only keep up with my top girls. I run with the middle runners and I have a female assistant with the runners in the back of the pack.
Any recent race results? Here’s a few. I used to compete for the Boulder Road Runners but they replaced me with a younger runner!
2-16-20: El Paso Half Marathon 1st age 1:35.20
5-25-20: Boulder Road Runners Virtual 5K 20:05.22
7-12-20: The GO Mile Virtual 5:40
Lifetime miles? 116,532.
Does it bother you that you are slower now? I have always been a competitive runner and once I slowed down, I had to adjust to my new abilities and set new goals. I am not bothered that I am slower as my effort is the same and I appreciate every chance I can race.
Diet or weight changes? When I was younger (20-40 range) I couldn’t get enough calories to sustain my running and would consume all I could. Today I am on a strict diet of minimal sugars and carbohydrates.
A favorite motivational phrase or quote? “We will race any time, any place.” I say this to my high school team. We travel to meets in Denver, Dallas, Austin, Phoenix and other places and have fun socializing on the bus.
What injuries or other health issues have you faced through the years? Before my running streak I had every imaginable injury a runner could get. Stress fractures in my metatarsals and shins, Achilles tendinitis, pulled calf, pulled hamstring, tendinitis both knees. My trainer, Marcie Strutz at Texas Tech, who also came to Socorro High School, educated me on how to prevent and take care of my injuries. I have used this to keep my high school runners safe so they can hopefully run for life.
Three tips for other would-be lifetime runners? I give these tips to my young runners:
1--Set a goal for a lifetime of running by making it a priority.
2--Measure your success based upon how you improve within yourself.
3--If you make running a part of your way of life, it will always be part of your life.
What are the biggest lessons (life lessons and running lessons) you have learned from running? I learned from running that it is part of my culture, “The People of the Runner." When there was no money and things were rough, I didn’t rely on fast times, perfect days or other running motivators to keep me going. I continued running effortlessly where all my other running colleagues lost interest and quit. Today my friends and family have many health problems and they have told me they wished they had continued to run