very happy person. And it’s not because of her phenomenal success, highlighted
most recently by a victory in the 5000 meter run (16:52.25) and a third place finish (9:20.94) behind Emily Sisson and Jordan Hasay at the USATF
Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Or because she enters her
senior year poised to break even more of New York’s storied records. It’s
simply her nature, and it’s evident in speaking with her. To those who watch
her run, the joy is evident there too.
Aisling is one of three children of Dr. Ronald and Marie Cuffe. Her parents
were born in Ireland and although they
are aware of famous Irish Olympians like Eamonn
Coghlan, her mother said they were not necessarily running enthusiasts. They
are enthusiasts of their children, however.
They attend nearly every
athletic event. Dr. Cuffe takes a lot of pictures and Marie Cuffe keeps a
scrapbook. They supported Aisling as she tried sprinting in track in seventh
grade without great results. They followed her to soccer and back to track as a
freshman, where she race-walked indoors. In outdoor track they watched her
qualify for the state meet, at which point her coach, Dave Feuer, knew “she was
going to be something special.”
since fostered Aisling’s love of the sport. Feuer said that she is a great
student of running and feeds her interest in the sport by researching online
and watching interviews. In addition to fostering interest, he has observed
that Aisling has an incredible “internal clock” and hits splits very
consistently without need of a watch.
Aisling maintains that her biggest strength is consistency in
performance, which is aided by enjoyment of the experience and a healthy
“A lot of runners have good
days and bad days but I’m fairly consistent. And even at the end of the race,
if I didn’t do great, I’m still really excited,” she says.
those same lines, her mother said that Aisling once told her that “some people
love to run, some people love to compete, I love both.”
Whatever the secrets are to Cuffe’s success, her career is well documented. By
way of reminder, she is a two-time Foot
Locker finalist and undoubtedly a favorite to win this year. Last fall, she
broke Christine Curtin’s course record at Sunken
Meadows by 21 seconds and won New York’s Federation Meet by 40
seconds. She is versatile on the track with personal bests ranging from 2:12 at
800 meters to 16:43.58 in the 5000. What’s not as well known is the impact her
infectious nature and love of running has on others.
“She’s a great teammate and sets a great example. Our second runner [Michelle
Lujan] has fed on her work ethic,” noted coach Feuer. Lujan has developed into
an 11:00 two-miler and would likely be a top runner for most cross-country
teams. This season, the team will welcome Aisling’s sister, Dara, to the varsity
team as an eighth grader. Dara joined her sister this past summer on what
Aisling calls, “field trips” that their mother takes them on to parks and
cross-country courses to train.
Aisling’s work ethic is at play in school as well. She frequently has perfect
attendance. She has a love for math and science. Her coach said that Cuffe
maintains a 100-point average and received a perfect score on the math portion
of the SAT. It is evident that even without the accomplishments in running, she
would be coveted by many colleges.
athletic abilities will obviously make her college choice a great topic of
interest. At this point, she has not nearly decided and will find a college
that suits her. The same is true for her career plans.
In Born to Run by Christopher
McDougall (which incidentally Aisling hopes to read when she can get the book
back from her father), the work of legendary coach Joe Vigil is referenced. In
his study of the great Tarahumara in Mexico, he observed that they run with
“such a sense of joy.” Those familiar with Aisling have seen pictures of her
running, often with a smile. Her post-race interviews are typically upbeat and
spirited. She has many gifts, but Aisling Cuffe is so clearly well served by
her sense of joy.