In the Locker room with Niels Vanderloo, Runner and Track Star


Courtesy of Chase Sortor

Fourth-year cross country runner Niels Vanderloo posing at the NCAC Cross Country Championships

Fourth-year Math and Physics major Niels Vanderloo is a runner on the cross country and track and field teams. During this October’s NCAC Championship, he finished sixth, first out of Oberlin runners, to help men’s cross country win its first championship in program history. When he’s not preparing for the winter track season, he can be found researching computational plasma physics, serving as an Accessibility Coordinator for Pyle Inn, and preparing for graduate school to continue his studies in physics.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

When did you start running, and how did you join the team?

I started running track in elementary school, but I didn’t really seriously start training until high school. In high school, I started training every day after school, but I was never that good at it. I didn’t know if I could compete at the college level, and then I came here. I joined the team, but I was unsure if I would run. However, when I finished high school, I was like, “If I don’t do this, I’m gonna be very bored, and I’m gonna have so much more fun if I am doing something challenging.”

What’s your favorite event to run?

Cross country is one of my favorite things, but in track, definitely the 10 kilometer because it’s the longest event that they have. When it’s a longer event, it’s like a slow burning pain the whole time. I like the less intense but longer, drawn-out race. The 10K is so much fun because it’s 25 laps on the track, so you just completely zone out when you run.

How do you balance athletics and being in a co-op?

One good thing is that co-ops have a time aid policy. Based on how many hours of a paid job you work, you can work fewer hours in the co-op. If you work five hours of a paid job, it’s one hour less. That’s been helpful because I don’t have to work the full five hours required. Co-op work takes up time, but it almost doesn’t feel like work because you’re eating and doing things that are fun with your friends every day. I also know I can go to the co-op even if it’s after 8 p.m., which is when Stevenson Dining Hall closes.

What made you want to become an Accessibility Coordinator?

Accessibility is just very important in the co-ops because there are so many different commitments and everyone’s needs are different. It’s a job that I care a lot about. Part of it is just food accessibility and dining, especially in Pyle. I really like working with my fellow co-op Accessibility Coordinator, College fourth-year Sammy Siegel. We’ve done a lot of physics research together in the past, so I knew I would work well with them.