Griffin Birney ’18 and Mustafe Dahir ’19: XC Course Record Breakers

Within the past year, two runners on Boys’ Cross Country have broken the school record, running the fastest time on Choate’s course by a Choate runner. The previous record was 16 minutes and 33 seconds, held by Bo Peard ’11 until last season when Griffin Birney ’18, who is a captain this season, had ran an epic race at the Founders’ League Championship on November 5, 2016. Birney broke the record by four seconds—and owned it a full 350 days until Mustafe Dahir ’19 put on a show during Parents’ Weekend, running a time of 16:19 to win. That time was ten seconds quicker than Birney’s record. During that same race, Birney broke his own record with a time of 16:25 and finished second behind Dahir.

I sat down with the two record-breaking runners to ask them a few questions.

Dan Brockett: How long have you been running competitively?

Mustafe Dahir: I started last spring. I didn’t know how to play many of the sports that Choate offers, so I decided to join track and field. After trying many different events, I finally found a home with the distance group.

Griffin Birney: I have been running since freshman year.

DB: What do you enjoy most about running?

MD: I like how running is both a team sport and an individual sport at the same time. Also, it is a wonderful way to explore the natural sights around the school and appreciate the beauty of nature.

GB: I enjoy the community. I think the camaraderie on the team is strong and that initially attracted me to cross country and that’s what has kept me going. I also enjoy the physical aspect of running, the feeling of pushing my body to the limit.

DB: What were your expectations heading into this season?

MD: Since this was my first year running cross country, I had almost no expectations and just wanted to have fun every at practice and race.

GB: I had seen Mustafe run in the spring, and he was incredibly impressive, so I knew he was going to have a great cross country season. I expect us to both finish in the top 3 in every race.

DB: What were your expectations heading into the race where you broke the record?

MD: I was not sure if I would be able to race because I had a minor injury. After the warm up, I felt okay and told the coaches that I wanted to race. I just expected to compete.

GB: I broke the record last year, and I just wanted to beat the second runner on Loomis. We wanted to solidify our points and help give us a better chance to win. I broke my old course record again against Hotchkiss, but finished behind Mustafe.

DB: Why do you think you were able to break the record in your respective races?

MD: I think the support of the parents and fans, and the fact that the opponents [Hotchkiss] had good runners, who forced me to push myself.

GB: When I broke the record last year, I had put in the work all season long and I had been working so hard with Joe Berrafati ’17, and I beat him for the first time ever at Founders. I give him a lot of credit because he really guided me as a runner.

DB: What are your expectations heading into the Championship Races?

GB: Honestly, I feel like I have unfinished business. Obviously, I have nothing but love for Mustafe, but I’m coming for him.

Both Birney and Dahir will look to help Choate win New England’s. The pair have a shot to finish 1-2 even against New England’s best, especially because for the first time in ten years, New England’s will be held at Choate.  Look for both Birney and Dahir to break their personal records, raising the bar for Choate runners, and perhaps setting a record that will stand for years to come.

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