POTTERVILLE, Mich. (WLNS) – Before the start of any race, it’s not uncommon for a runner to put a certain amount of pressure on themselves, but for Potterville’s Carson Brunk, when the gun goes off, he enters a state of euphoria and a lot of it is thanks to his Dad, Dan.
“We’ve kept it so fun,” said Carson. “We always joke about things. It’s been cool having him there.”
Unlike most parents, Dan Brunk can cheer on his son from inside the track since he is also his coach and Carson has had quite the success.
He won the regional title in both the 800 meter run and 1600 meter run earlier this year, while also setting a new personal best in both races this season.
His PR in the 800 came at regionals when he raced across the line with a time of 1:57 – Then he went 4:19 at Davison for a new PR in the mile.
“I always let him that I’m your Dad first and I’m your biggest cheerleader,” said Dan. “I’m your biggest fan. Well, Mom will argue that but I’m honestly his biggest fan and that is for me the number one thing.”
“A lot of people could put pressure on themselves about you know your Dad and I’d like to think of him as my best friend,” added Carson. “I know some people would think the same so It’d be really easy to put pressure on yourself, but I feel like I’ve been kind of able to weather that and he’s helped a lot and kept it fun for me.”
Keeping it “fun” is key for the Brunk’s because there was once a time where they didn’t know if Carson would ever even be able to run – let alone at such a competitive level. At three years old the doctors discovered a Wilms’ tumor on his kidney and for over a year he received treatment to get rid of the cancer.
“When he was little, I always felt like it was my responsibility on a Sunday night to put him in his pajamas and take him down to Sparrow and have him get whatever treatment he needed.,” said Dan. “Access his port. Those kinds of things and I always picture that little boy that I had to carry down there kicking and screaming sometimes so then it’s allowed me to take joy in every single day that I have doing this with him.”
“I always remember my parents’ never really crying and it’s so hard to kind of keep a strong positive mindset through everything and that’s one thing I remember,” added Carson. “My parents were super strong with everything, and they always tried to make the best of you know a not so good situation and I really admired that.”
His parents’ strength taught Carson to see more of the bigger picture. Running isn’t everything and neither is winning, but falling in love with what you do and working hard to be great at it is… and in running sometimes that means getting up on a Sunday morning to log 10 miles on the river trail in the thick of winter.
“One thing we always say is you have to embrace the suck,” said Carson. “You have to do something that sucks every day because then you’re going to strengthen your mind and it’s just going to be that much better for you in the long run.”
Carson is going to run at Grand Valley State University next season and is hoping to not only break the school record in the 800 at the Division 3 state championship meet in Kent City but win the title as well.