Running through obstacles


Women’s cross-country runner Cecilia Instebo trains for the sand portions of the Santa Barbara City College Invitational at Leadbetter Beach on Sept. 10.

Madison Paglia, Staff Writer

Swedish cross-country standout Cecilia Instebo battled through physical and mental obstacles in her quest for success as a student-athlete.

Instebo is the lone returnee for women’s cross-country, seizing her spot as the top runner while maintaining her 4.0 GPA as a kinesiology major.

“She was just nominated as the SBCC representative for The Pepsi Scholar Athlete Award which is a very prestigious, state wide award,” cross-country head coach Scott Fickerson said. “To receive this award you must be an excellent student and an excellent athlete.”

Instebo’s competitive mentality in academics carries over into all aspects of her life, especially running.

“If I lack motivation one day, I remind myself of what I’m training for, and because I love competing, that helps me get in the mood.” Instebo explained. “I’ve always been up for a challenge and running is just that, a challenge.”

Instebo, born and raised in Sweden, started running at the age of ten as an after school activity.

“I started when I was ten and in high school I attended a specialized program that allowed me to do track and field for credit.” Instebo said.

Instebo, 25, is still a part of the last club team she ran for in Sweden, and continues to love running because it pushes her outside her comfort zone. When Instebo came to the U.S. she already knew where she wanted to live.

“When I decided that I wanted to go back to the States and attend school, California was the only State I had in mind.” Instebo explained. “It was my love for the beach and the palm trees that made me choose Santa Barbara.”

Santa Barbara was a big change from her life in Sweden, so it was innate for her to pick up track as soon as she started at City College.

During her first season of track and field, Instebo struggled with an on-going lower back injury that prevented her from competing, but led her to the longer distances of cross-country.

“I was injured last season in track but I was still able to make it to state by my second season,” Instebo said. “Cross country has been a lot better for my injuries and if it weren’t for our great athletic trainers I wouldn’t have been able to compete.”

The injury wasn’t caused by a specific incident but grew increasingly worse as Instebo continued to compete. She found motivation to keep going through her role model Paula Radcliffe, one of the top distance runners in the world.

“She’s an amazing runner, and she has had to overcome many obstacles on her road to success.” Instebo stated. “She never gave up, she took those failures and she learned from them.”

Apart from injuries, the mental part of running has been Instebo’s biggest challenge so far.

“The mental aspect of not giving up is definitely the most challenging part.” Instebo explained. “With running especially, 99 percent is just the mind.”

Instebo entered this season with a new set of goals ready to be achieved.

“First of all I want to run sub-nineteen [minutes],” Instebo explained. “My overall goal would be around 18:30 for the 5k, and make it to state with the team which I am very positive we will do this season.”