Track & field: Peak to Peak turns to familiar face to lead program

When members of the Peak to Peak track team meet their new coach, many of them will be able to skip the introductions.

That’s because the Pumas hired a face very familiar to the team — Pumas cross country coach Richard Hansen.

Many of the same athletes compete for both teams, cross country in the fall and track in the spring. Now, they’ll be under tutelage of the same coach for both.

“A couple members of the team have shot me an email or shot me a text message congratulating me,” Hansen said. “When they found out the previous coach stepped down, a lot of them were in my ear at cross country practice, saying I should apply. It made me feel nice that they wanted me to take over the program.”

Hansen has been Peak to Peak’s cross country coach for the past two seasons and perhaps is more well known as a doctor. He owns and operates High Altitude Spine and Sport in Boulder.

The track job also was open last season, but Hansen decided not to apply because he was just starting to gain footing at the school. This time, when the job was posted, Hansen didn’t hesitate.

“It was a natural fit,” he said.

Hansen’s distinguished background in running didn’t hurt his case. He competed for the UC San Diego track and cross country teams from 2000 to 2005 and also is a veteran of five marathons. He completed the Boston Marathon in 2007.

He also possesses the innate ability to convince athletes to participate.

“One of the things I like about Rich is that he had 60 kids on the cross country team,” Peak to Peak athletic director Peter Chandler said. “He’s just a pied piper that way. He gets kids involved, and track and cross country are great sports to bring on the participants.”

The job was posted for only 72 hours, as once Chandler knew Hansen was genuinely interested, he didn’t need to stockpile an abundance of candidates.

“I know what type of a quality coach he is and that he pays great attention to detail,” Chandler said. “His communication is first-rate with his team members and their families. And, especially in track, I’m looking for a coach who knows all facets.”

Now, Hansen is in the position where one of his seasons can help train for the other.

“Knowing I was getting a good group of kids who would like to see the program as a year-round experience, I felt it was something that would be a natural transition,” Hansen said.