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Liz Constien learns to blaze her own trail from Olympian sister

CU cross country junior Liz Constien sets herself apart from her older sister Val, fresh off appearance in the Olympic steeplechase finals.

BOULDER, Colo. — Elizabeth Constien is a master of perspective.

Coming off of two running seasons in only the past six months, the CU junior distance runner has had the ability to see a bit more myopically, and focus on the goals that matter most to her.

"I'm a cross country person at heart. I love cross country. I always have since high school," she said. 

After finishing 72nd overall with a time of 21:18.5 at the 2020 NCAA cross country championships, Constien competed at the 10,000m in the spring track season for the first time.

She enjoyed it much more than she thought she would, but prefers something a bit closer to the 6K she runs on the outdoor course.

"I think growing up in Vail, there were so many hilly trails we were running," she said.

Credit: Elizabeth Constien

Liz Constien was inspired by the altitude and the rocky trails of Vail, as well as her older sister Val.

"My sister is Val Constien and she raced at CU for five years. She just went to the Olympics in Steeplechase," she said with a smile plastered on her face.

The elder Constien took 12th place in the 3,000m Steeplechase final, beating out fellow CU alum Emma Coburn.

"As kids, she was always four years older than me, so we were never in high school together and we were only on the CU team together for one year," Liz said.

But that was enough for Liz to appreciate the athlete her sister would become and learn to blaze her own trail.

"It's not filling in her shoes, it's like I'm making my own name next to her," Liz said. "My senior year, I won the state championship in cross country, and I thought, you know what, even though my sister had a more decorated track, I had a more decorated cross country. I never saw it as anything other than motivation."

Liz won the 2017 cross country state championship as a senior at Battle Mountain High School with a time of 18:03.9.

Credit: Elizabeth Constien

During her time at BMHS, Val recorded records in the 800-meters (2:16) and 1,600 (5:04), as well as records in the triple jump (36-3), 4x400, 4x800 and distance medley relays. 

The younger Constien hopes to share some room in the collegiate trophy case, as well.

"There's such a legacy here at CU and it means even more that there's such a legacy that my sister is a part of," she said. "I think there's no other time than now to go for a podium finish or even a national championship finish. If I can be a part of that, I will, but I always like to say that if I can't have the best day, I want my team to have the best day."

Credit: Elizabeth Constien

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