By Rubin E. Grant
Arthur Langley didn’t start running when he took his first steps, but it wasn’t long after that.
He was still in kindergarten when he ran his first 5K race, and he’s been running ever since.
Now a junior at John Carroll Catholic, Langley is one of the top boys distance runners in the state.
“He comes from a family of runners,” John Carroll cross-country coach Katie King said. “He has a strategy for every race. He knows the exact mile and exact time he’s supposed to hit at each mile. It doesn’t matter who he’s racing against or is around, he’s always looking to bring out the best in himself.”
Langley said, “The strategy comes from my coaching and from previous races and how I can apply the mistakes I made to become better or whether I should try a different approach.”
In his first race of the 2022 cross-country season, Langley clocked 10:08.66 to win the Warrior 2-mile Invitational hosted by Thompson.
The next time out, Langley recorded a personal-best 15:38.93 while finishing fourth in the annual Chickasaw Trails Invitational at the Oakville Indian Mounds cross-country course, where the 2022 AHSAA cross-country championships will be held Nov. 5.
Things didn’t go quite as well for Langley last Saturday in the Southern Showcase presented by Huntsville High at the John Hunt Running Park. The race featured some of the top high school runners in the Southeast.
Langley finished well back in the pack in the Championship Division Boys 5K run with a time of 16:06.81. Patrick Koon, a senior from Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida, clocked 14:43.09 to win.
Despite that showing, Langley figures to be in contention for the Class 5A individual state title. He finished fifth in 2021 as a sophomore with a time of 16:23.79.
“I want to bounce back and capture the state title this year,” Langley said.
With that goal in mind, Langley changed his workout routine during the summer.
“I had a lot of base mileage, trying a different approach with longer runs and higher mileage,” Langley said. “I wanted to be consistent in my training, but the main thing is staying healthy.”
King, a former runner at John Carroll and at Samford, was not surprised to see Langley increase his mileage.
“Honestly, with Arthur, no distance is too far and no workout is too daunting,” King said. “He has a passion for running. He seeks daily improvement for himself and others. He trains with people all over, with his family, with soccer players, with whoever. He’s very intentional and focused, driven.”
Langley’s dad, Eric Langley, ran in high school at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Mobile. His mom, Allison, also was a runner and his sister, Lilly Langley, ran at John Carroll before graduating in the spring.
“My dad started me, running with him in the morning,” Arthur Langley said, “and I just kept running.”
Langley said his dad is an invaluable resource.
“We talk the whole week about goals and strategy and what success that day looks like. After a race, we reflect on how well I did.”
Last winter and in the spring, Langley had strong seasons in indoor and outdoor track for the Cavaliers. In the state indoor meet, he earned two individual medals, a silver in the 3,200-meter run and a bronze in the 800-meter run.
In the state outdoor meet, he earned silver in the 3,200 and bronze in the 1,600 and finished fifth in the 800 meters.
When asked whether he preferred track to cross-country, Langley replied: “That’s a difficult question. I’ll go with cross-country, although in track, as the distances go up, it gives me a chance to thrive in longer and different races. But cross-country is where me and my teammates are all doing the same thing. I like that aspect of it.”