When Spanish Fork resident, Brad Barton laces up his running shoes, he’s not going for a casual jog. Unlike most men his age, the 53-year-old father of five is heading out the door to chase world records, that when he catches, he doesn’t just break, but shatters.
One such shattering happened on May 31, 2019, at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville, Tennessee. The record Barton was after was the 50-54 age division record in the mile that was set 18 years ago. To break it, he would need to run under 4 minutes 24 seconds, which, to put things in perspective would have taken top 10 at the 6A high school state championships this past spring.
Well, 4 minutes, 19.59 seconds after toeing that line in Tennessee, Barton broke through the tape, taking the world record home with him, adding one more of those notches to his belt. You read right. One more of those notches to his belt.
This was not Barton’s first time around the world record block. The former Weber State All-American who finished third in the steeplechase at the 1991 NCAA Championships also owns the world record for the steeplechase in the men’s 45-49 category at 9:06.68. In 2014, he broke the indoor world record for the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:26.15 for the men’s 45-49 category. That same year, during a world record attempt for his age group in the mile, the accomplished runner came in at 4 minutes, 17.54 seconds, barely missing the world record time, but he set another record as the oldest man to go under 4:20 in the mile.
According to Barton, however, it hasn’t been an easy road to get on track for a world record — or on any track for that matter. Following his 2014 season and taking a break in 2015, Barton had a series of unfortunate events including a broken toe on a fall during a run. He rolled his ankle while stepping off the track one day, and later ripped a quadricep. The worst of all was when he collided with a bike while out on a run, causing several broken ribs and a severe concussion.
“People will say, ‘You’re Brad Barton,’ you’re used to breaking records. It’s what you do!’” Barton said. “What they don’t realize is the struggle it has taken me to get here. I have had to fight physical and mental setbacks to even be able to get to the track.”
Barton has teamed up with his former college coach, Charles “Chick” Hislop to get him back on track.
“It hasn’t just been the injuries and mental setbacks that we’ve had to deal with, but age has presented another challenge,” Barton said. “As I’ve gotten older, I have had to make adjustments, and coach Hislop has been instrumental in making this old body work. I run a lot fewer miles and require a lot more rest.”
The approach is working, and Barton is back on top of his game. He is quick, however, to point out how much his struggle and success parallels life. And as a professional inspirational speaker and author, he uses those lessons to teach those he speaks to.
“I feel like so much of what I have experienced parallels life,” he said. “I have had people come up to me and say, ‘I was about to give up on my marriage, but listening to your story of overcoming setbacks through perseverance has inspired me to work through it. I had a mother in her later years comment on a YouTube video of me racing in 2014 saying that it inspired her to go back to school.
I have always felt like going after these records is a calling of mine. It is not about me running fast times or breaking world records. It’s about being able to inspire others to do things that haven’t been done before, to overcome setbacks and find out that it’s never too late to realize a dream.”
If you think Barton is done going after world records, think again. On July 19, he will head to Portland, Oregon for his attempt to go back to his steeplechasing roots to break a 30-year-old world record in that event.