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Mid Vermont Grad Is Running the Dream

South Royalton’s Proctor Set for Los Angeles Marathon

Los Angeles — Gabe Proctor has never let long odds deter him from his goals. Today will be no different when he runs in the Los Angeles Marathon, the first race of its kind the 23-year-old Proctor has ever attempted.

But if you know anything about Proctor, you know not to count him out.

Proctor moved from Gunnison, Colo., where he went to school at Western State College, to Mammoth last fall to work with the Asics Mammoth Track Club and coaches Deena (a 2004 bronze medalist in the marathon) and Andrew Kastor.

After working with Proctor, Kastor has become a true believer.

So much so, that he believes, “Proctor has a realistic shot at the top five,”Andrew predicted. “He will run between 2:10 and 2:12.”

It’s been quite a run for Proctor, who grew up impoverished in urban Mek’ele, Ethiopia, until he was adopted at age 10 by Jim Proctor. At the time, Jim Proctor was the pastor at the United Church of South Royalton. (He has since moved on to pastor at a church in Corinth, Maine.)

He attended Mid Vermont Christian school in Quechee, but with no track program at the school, Proctor never considered track as a sport until connecting with Hanover High assistant coach Jeff Johnson as a senior.

Practicing both with the Marauders and in one-on-one sessions with Johnson, it wasn’t long before Proctor was competing independently at Vermont meets. He placed second in the 3,200-meter run at the Vermont state meet with a time of 10:14.58 during his senior year and almost immediately earned a running scholarship for the effort at Garden City Community College in Kansas.

He placed sixth in the 1,000 at NJCAA nationals as a freshman and was an all-American cross country runner as a sophomore, placing ninth at nationals, but he felt the Broncbuster coaches were attempting to steer him more to cross country while he was more interested in track.

He decided to transfer to Western State College in Colorado.

After redshirting his first year with Mountaineers, Proctor went on to place 18th in the 10-kilometer run at outdoor NCAA Division II nationals as a repeat sophomore and rocket all the way to third as a junior while placing fourth in the 5K.

He shaved more than 1:19 off last year’s 10K time and nearly 53 seconds off his 5K to win both events this year.

Proctor majored in exercise and sport science at the small D-II school. But while he was a national champion, he is relatively unknown in the running world.

Looking for a place to run after college, Proctor discovered the club online and told Kastor: “I want to come site unseen.”

But Kastor made him visit first, before committing to Mammoth. “It was the best thing I’ve done,” Proctor said.

Based on his mechanics and running style Kastor thought Proctor would be a good marathoner.

Proctor spent the majority of his time with Mammoth training. He also has a verbal agreement with Kastor not to do anything to jeopardize his running career.

“There’s so many things I want to do outside of running,” Proctor said. “But the risk of injury is too great.”

Proctor and his running partner, Lauren Kleppin, have their sights set next on racing in the Olympic marathon.

“We just have to stay healthy and do our best,” Proctor said.

For now, Proctor plans to train with the Kastors for the rest of his career.

“I told coach that I’ll stay here until I retire, until I’m 30. I’m not running after I’m 30. I just want to do something else, I guess.”

VALLEY NEWS staff writer Jared Pendak contributed to this story.