Presenting Court Rules: An Advice Column by Courtney Smith

 Photos by Michael Scott and Don Rich

PennTrackXC presents to you "Court Rules," an advice column written by Courtney Smith.

Smith is a decorated long distance runner who attends Harvard University. In high school, she was apart of a very successful Unionville program. While there, she won an individual state cross country title in 2012, a 3,200 meter state championship on the track in 2013, and a PIAA team crown in Class-AAA in 2013. In college, Smith has helped turn the Harvard Crimson into a national power. She earned All-American honors and even qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meters on the track this past summer.

With her resume and experience, we are excited and honored to bring you this column where Smith will answer YOUR questions on anything and everything related to running.

We invite you to ask any questions (publicly or anonymously) for Courtney to answer. Send us your questions via email (, tweet us (@PennTrackXC), on Facebook, or in the comments section of this article.

Courtney introduces herself below:

Smith (above) shown winning the 2012 PIAA AAA XC title / Photo by Don Rich

Hi PA!

My name is Courtney Smith and I am currently in my third year as a distance runner on Harvard's Cross Country and Track teams.  I graduated from Unionville High School in 2014 and have spent many an hour stalking (I prefer the term "researching" ;)) running on PennTrackXC.  My freshman year in high school I mainly focused on soccer and lacrosse, running indoor track just for fun and to stay in shape.  After freshman year, I realized I loved running so much that I decided to run year-round and have been doing Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor track ever since!

Running quickly grew from just a fun activity I did whenever I felt like it to a passion of mine that has given me many of my best friends, memories, adventures, and life lessons.  It has taught me how to work hard, persevere through adversity, and enjoy the process. I've been through many ups and downs from state championships and All-American awards to injuries and iron problems.  I've doubted myself, believed in myself, and accomplished things I never thought possible.

When I was in high school, Coach Lac always encouraged me to dream big, so I decided my "long-term, stretch goal" was to eventually qualify for the Olympic Trials.  My dream ended up coming true much earlier than I had expected when I ran 32:08 last April which was the eighth fastest time in NCAA history and gave me an auto spot for the 2016 Olympic Trials in July.  Now my goals are even bigger and while some still seem long-term, I no longer view anything as a "stretch".

Smith (above) takes the PIAA AAA 3200 meter state crown / Photo by Don Rich

I am currently majoring in Chemistry at Harvard, but enjoy all types of learning and problem solving.  I love learning about psychology and the mind, as well as random fun facts and understanding how the world works.  So here are some fun facts about me: I've found over thirty four-leaf clovers in my life, when I was one day old I got kicked out of the nursery for crying so much I was "disturbing the other babies" (we always joke I was bored and just wanted to get out and run), and in second grade I won an eraser for memorizing the last name of all the presidents and I haven't forgotten them since.

Some people think of running as a selfish pursuit because it can involve many hours alone, but I also think running brings people together and makes them even better friends, family members, and employees. Running has helped me in many ways and I'd love to give back by answering any questions you guys might have about college, running, recruiting, or whatever else you'd like to know about!


Watch Smith's interview after winning the 2012 PIAA AAA XC state title