Life in Lane 4
What do the fastest runners do when life slows down? How do they pass the time from sprint to sprint? In between twenty second to minute long sprints, there’s plenty of free time to explore personal interests and find yourself outside of the sport, especially when sprinting is your livelihood.
Myles Pringle and Burkheart Ellis Jr. (more commonly referred to BJ) are two of the fastest runners you’ll meet. Myles has run the 400 meter dash in 45.36 seconds, and BJ has run 20.36 seconds for the 200 meter dash. Both of these men have had distinguished careers, Myles being one of the top collegiate sprinters in recent years, and BJ spent his summer of 2016 running in Rio at the Olympics. Life on the track has been well documented for both of these runners, but the track is only a fraction of their lives.
Myles hails from Cincinnati, Ohio where he quickly moved from figure skating to soccer and finally finding his success on the track. Along with his jumps from sport to sport, he traveled down south like a seasonal bird for his pro career here in the Triangle. He’s been training here since 2019 where he met BJ.
BJ’s story starts off a bit warmer in Speightstown, Barbados, the country he still represents. From long nights of training back home with support from his great grandmother to now, he eventually found his way to the Oak City.
So, what does a typical day in the offseason look like for some of the fastest men in the country? To start off, they enjoy their sleep. When 7 am is your consistent wake up time during the season and most of the year, the first thing Myles and BJ do in the offseason is nothing. “Chill” was a term often used to describe the offseason life because for most of the year their lives are under the microscope of coaches and stop watches.
Myles’ definition of chill is time spent with his plants, playing guitar, and taking photos on his film camera. BJ takes his mind off the oval by playing video games like Fifa and Call of Duty with a side of cookies and milk. While they both enjoy working out in the offseason, they mainly enjoy the lack of structure and pressure.
When you meet BJ for the first time, you feel his presence when he walks into the room. Not in the sense that he’s physically imposing, but you notice his fashion and his jovial nature. He rocks up with a smile and some Jordan’s, jeans and an oversized t-shirt a style he attributes to his mother, and sometimes a hat that ties it all together.
“I got my shoe game from my mom with the Air Forces and Jordan’s,” BJ explained. “I’ve always liked Nike’s cause that’s what my mom wears, and I’ve got my love for hats from my dad.”
Having competed in track and field since he was four years old, he enjoys the slower moments of his life at home with some sweets.
“I have a crazy sweet tooth,” BJ added. “Like the McDonald’s cookies, fresh out of the oven are incredible. I can eat 13 of those things in one sitting.”
An essential, of course, to any cookie is a good glass of milk. BJ’s preferred cookie is a chocolate chip cookie, but he loves a strawberry cheesecake cookie with icing on it from Crumbl cookie. Reheating it and letting the icing melt all over the cookie is a little slice of heaven during the offseason for BJ when he doesn’t have to focus so much on eating right.
Myles is more reserved. You’ll often find him in Runologie sipping on some Pine State Coffee and finding creative inspiration on the internet. While not as physically imposing as BJ, he has a cozy and comfortable style that matches his comforting presence. With a sweatshirt and a flannel on, he likes to tie his fashion back to his time at his arts high school.
“I went to an arts high school,” Myles told me. “I always felt like my style never worked, but my classmates would say, ‘No, I love your style,’ but I never fully loved it.”
To better his style, he enrolled his high school friend Ashani, who now works in the fashion industry, to improve his style. From pictures of his wardrobe to mini fashion shows, Myles developed a style of his own that he’s proud of, comfy yet sleek.
As athletes, the saying goes: “You look good; you feel good. You feel good; you play good. You play good; they pay good.” Both Myles and BJ gain some of their swagger from their fashion, but as professional athletes the pressure of performance can be more than a good outfit can fix.
For Myles, off the track he draws on the support of his former track coach, Ernest Clark. Clark is more of a father figure than a track coach to Myles. Myles has called on Clark’s life advice multiple times in life, from analyzing bad races to simply catching up with an old friend.
“I call him Baldy, ” Myles joked. “He would always say ‘You’re lucky I love you, or else I’d have to hit you,’”
When Myles calls Clark, his former coach often answers the phone with “Hey son, how are you?” After being out of college for some years now, Myles often calls as a friend to talk about life.
BJ leans on his “Uncle” Prince Castel who was a close friend of his mother’s during her time at Saint Augustine’s University and saw the potential BJ had at a young age.
“He helped me get my grades up so I could get back on the track,” BJ recalled.
Spending time with BJ and Myles, one quickly realizes that track athlete isn’t a sufficient bio for either of them. Both of them love a good time spent with friends whether it’s running related or not. You can hear the nostalgia in their voices when they talk about running mileage past the Krispy Kreme on Person St.. Those are fond memories not because they enjoy distance running — they don’t — but because they loved being with their teammates.
Here are more fitting bios for the two of them:
“Myles, a loving father to his plants who splits his time between scratching his photography itch and talking shoes with runners. He’s quick to help and comfortable to be around. Typically seen with a camera, whether in front of it or behind it.”
“BJ, a certified sweet tooth who can boss people on FIFA or Call of Duty, whichever L they prefer. He’s constantly smiling, telling jokes, updating his coach on the weather, or posing for the camera. No matter what he’s doing, you can feel the energy in the room go up when he walks in.”
Oh and they run pretty fast too.
Photo Credit: Brett Villena & Joshua Dwight