On August 28th in Scottsdale, Arizona, Olympian and professional runner David Torrence was found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool at the age of 31. The middle distance star was training in Scottsdale, Arizona with a few other runners at the time.
He had a truly remarkable career that included many records over the years. Torrence was not only a great racer, but was highly respected by his fellow runners and friends, and was known as a class competitor on and off the track. He was highly respected by his fellow runners with Hoka One One, as well as his opponents.
DAVID TORRENCE LIFE AND RUNNING CAREER
David Torrence was born in Japan in 1985, but moved to California when he was little, where he grew up in Los Angeles. Torrence was a great runner from a young age. He ran for his team at Loyola High School and stood out in the state of California, as well as the nation. He finished his high school career with personal records of 4:11 in the 1600m and 9:05 in the 3200m. He went on to run at the University of California Berkeley, and made a name for himself there.
Torrence looked like a very promising young star, as he started off his college career with a freshman record in the 1500m run at Cal. Recently, his good friend Will Leer said that Torrence opened up about some of his tough years at Cal, where he had been kicked out of school for his grades. He had to work very hard in community college to get back into Cal, and instead of giving up, he worked as hard as he could and eventually got back in. After his return, he set the school record in the mile with a time of 3:58.62 in 2007.
He would go on to run much faster than 3:58.62 in his professional career.
David Torrence turned pro in 2008, where he ran for Hoka One One. He also competed for the United States and Peru in World Championships and the Rio Olympics. Torrence ran for Peru at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and competed in the 5000m run, where his time of 13:43.12 earned him 15th place in the finals. His mother is originally from Peru, he was determined to make the country proud. He set several Peruvian records from the 800m up, and set the Peruvian record at the olympics in the 5000m run in the preliminaries with 13:23.20.
In 2012, Torrence ran his personal best in the mile at the Pre Classic, 3:52.01 which remained his personal best until his passing. He also holds the American Indoor record for 1000m, and the Peruvian mile record of 3:53.21 which he set in June earlier this year.
Torrence was known as a tough competitor, and was always trying to better himself and become the best athlete he could. Will Leer, runner and good friend of Torrence’s, said in a phone interview about a time Torrence didn’t finish some drills and swimming. “During the swim, he was so cold. He was too skinny to warm himself up—it was just ridiculous. Then he had to do like 1,000 burpees as a penalty for all the obstacles he couldn’t complete. He was just a nut job—just so funny.”
DAVID TORRENCE LONG ISLAND MILE
In 2015, Hoka One One runner from Long Island Kyle Merber created a new track meet, which included a mile run with several professional runners. The Long Island Mile is now annual, and is held at St. Anthony’s High School in Suffolk County. David Torrence won the first two years. Kyle Merber renamed the event to “The David Torrence Mile” this year in his honor. The event was run on September 6th of this year and Great Britain’s Chris O’Hare won the race in the rain with a time of 3:56.
I was lucky enough to get to watch David Torrence compete back at the first ever Long Island Mile at St. Anthony’s High School on September 9th, 2015, where Torrence won the race in 3:53.91. His fast strides and competitive nature really showed in his racing, as he managed to out-kick Garrett Heath to take the victory. It was a special race that I will never forget, and his time was the fastest time ever run on Long Island.
David Torrence will go down as one of the greatest runners in American and Peruvian history, and is remembered as a great athlete, competitor and person among his peers.