Simpson alum earns gold for U.S.

by Kate SimpsonStaff Writer

Mike Godbout was once an All-American hurdler for Simpson College and now has brought home the gold from the 2009 World Masters Athletics Championships in Lahti, Finland. At 40 years old, he ran a 14.32 in the 110-meter hurdles.

“Crossing the finish line in the Team USA uniform with a world title is pretty special,” Godbout said. “It’s an unique experience.”

Godbout is currently a firefighter in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Between this, his family and training, Godbout has had to learn to manage his time, although his family always comes first.

“You don’t balance, it’s a juggle,” Godbout said. “But a good thing about being a firefighter is you work out at work, but you can’t hurdle or practice going out of blocks.”

As a firefighter, he has to work 24-hour shifts. There are times when he works all day Friday, goes to a race on Saturday, works all day Sunday and does not see his family for a full 72 hours. There are also times where he will be fighting fires all night, then have to train the next day on no sleep.

“I do every once in a while feel burnt-out,” Godbout said. “With juggling a family and working and training, sacrifices have to be made, but with the shot of being a world champion, you think about that in the back of your head and that’s the motivation.”

Although his schedule is anything but slow, Godbout also finds time to be an assistant track coach for Iowa Western Community College in Shenandoah.

“It gives you a nice insight to be able to train,” Godbout said. “It keeps you young at heart and keeps the competitive fire going. You gain a lot of knowledge.”

Godbout has always enjoyed hurdling, but after missing the 1996 Olympic Trials, he was ready to move on to new things. After coaching at IWCC for a while, and with a little convincing from friend Kip Janvrin, who ran track with Godbout at Simpson, his motivation to race was back. Since then, he has won not only the U.S. Masters, but also the World Masters.

One of Godbout’s favorite things to do is take his kids to his races.

“I like to bring them down to the track,” Godbout said. “I want them to see what hard work and dedication can bring to you.”

While running track at Simpson, Godbout earned All-American honors six times, placed in the top eight three times at the national indoor meet in the 55-meter hurdles, placed third twice and eighth once in the 110 high hurdles at the outdoor national meet, and currently holds the school record in the 55-hurdles with a 7.56 and the 110-high-hurdles with a 14.33. His favorite memories of running at Simpson were traveling and working hard with the team. While his training now is pretty similar to how he trained at Simpson, being in an older body doesn’t allow him to work as hard day in and day out.

From being extremely successful in and out of collegiate track, and now coaching, he has a lot of insight when it comes to running at the college level.

“You have to work hard and you have to be dedicated,” Godbout said. “There are times to have fun, but there are times you need to train hard. You don’t want to leave college wondering how good you could have been. Give everything you’ve got now. Athletics open so many opportunities so achieve what you can so you don’t wonder what you could have accomplished later.”