NEWBURYPORT – Early yesterday evening, a group of about two dozen teenagers gathered at Maudslay State Park to go for a run. The teenagers were running as part of a summer camp organized by the Amesbury and Triton track programs, and joining them was a tall, athletic young man who would serve as their mentor for the evening.
“We’re going to go really easy,” the man said.
“Your really easy is my race pace,” one of the girls responded jokingly.
She probably wasn’t far off, considering that their guest for the evening was former UMass Lowell track star Ruben Sanca, who recently finished 21st at the 2014 Boston Marathon and who represented Cape Verde at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Sanca came at the behest of UMass Lowell coach Gary Gardner, who agreed to help Amesbury and Triton head track coaches Ernie Bissaillon and Joe Colbert with their new summer running camp by bringing some of his athletes to help mentor the kids and give them an idea of what it will take to make the jump to the next level.
Sanca was born in Cape Verde before moving to the U.S. when he was 12, and despite his eventual success, he said he wasn’t a star athlete when he was young. The key to his success was being consistent with his training and achieving the goals he set for himself, which eventually led him to heights that would have seemed unimaginable when he started.
“I think that’s one of the most important things you can do as a high school athlete, because you’re growing from year to year,” Sanca said. “Someone once said to me, ‘if you have something you want to reach, it’s only a dream unless you actually write it down.’ So I always wrote down my goals.”