Podcast: Episode 16 with Brandon Hudgins


I don’t wanna just be someone who qualified for the Olympic Trials once and made a semifinal or whatever. I want to be someone who’s name is in contention for teams. And that’s my goal these last three years and I’m going to be doing everything I can to get there. But I want to be known as someone who basically made running cool again.

Stoked to welcome sub-4:00 miler Brandon Hudgins to the podcast! Not only is Brandon fast—he’s also an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 1,500m—but he’s got one of the most inspiring, and untold, stories in professional running today, and I’m excited to share it with all of you.

While competing collegiately at Winthrop University in 2008, Hudgins was diagnosed with Vasculitis, specifically granulomatosis with polyangiitis, a rare autoimmune disease that attacks blood vessels in various organs throughout the body, causing debilitating inflammation that requires treatment with chemotherapy and high doses of corticosteroids. Currently in remission—he’s had three serious relapses in the past 10 years, the last one in 2016—the now 31-year-old Hudgins, who still receives immunotherapy treatments every six months, is rebuilding momentum with the next Olympic Trials fast approaching two years from now.

“I don’t know how long my legs are going to last or what my health situation is going to be so I don’t want to say I’m making Plan Bs because I hate making Plan Bs,” Hudgins told me. “That’s just not the type of person I am and it drives people in my family, and my girlfriend, absolutely bonkers—but [I’ve been] setting things up outside of running, and for my future, getting involved with the [Vasculitis] foundation more and all of that so if this running thing doesn’t work out I’m not completely left naked standing in the street with a pair of running shorts on with no real skills.”

In this episode we dive into Hudgins’ story and how he got into running, learn what vasculitis is and how he’s adapted to living with it, speculate on what he thinks he could have run if he weren’t dealing with the disease, talk about how he’s worked through periods of anxiety and depression related to his illness, discuss who is exciting him in running today (hint: she was a previous guest on this podcast) and what’s upsetting him about the sport, and much, much more.

Subscribe, listen, and review on: iTunes | Stitcher | Overcast | Google Play | Soundcloud

Related links, references, and resources:

— Follow Brandon on Instagram and Twitter.

— Visit his website.

— Buy Brandon’s book, Going The Distance, on Amazon. Here’s a free excerpt if you’re interested in checking it out.

Runner Overcomes Rare Disease to Break 4:00 Mile. “After I had come back and run really well, my doctor told me, ‘I didn’t tell you it wasn’t possible, but I pretty much didn’t think it was possible,” Hudgins told Alison Wade for Runner’s World. “When you asked if you could run again and I said yes, I did not think that you would be able to get back to competing at the level you were at, much less get faster.'”

Watch Brandon’s first sub-4:00 mile at Sir Walter Miler in 2015. “It was like having a thousand-pound gorilla jump off my back,” Hudgins told me in our conversation. “It couldn’t have happened at a more special place.”

— “Four years ago, they watched him methodically gather all of his running gear and toss it in the garbage as the result of a panic attack,” Kit Fox wrote for Runner’s World in 2016. “Hudgins’s vasculitis had relapsed, and he had to undergo chemotherapy again. He lost his running sponsorship, and the disease and treatment slowed him from a 3:45 1500-meter PR to barely being able to huff out a 9-minute mile. On Thursday night, they watched him run at Hayward Field in front of 20,000 spectators.”

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This episode of the morning shakeout podcast was edited by John Isaac at BaresRecords.com

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