Mark Wetmore famously is a man of few words.
It is a source of pride for a man who has spent the better part of three decades at the University of Colorado, even if it also can be a source of frustration for those trying to unlock the secrets to the success of a man who has led the Buffaloes to seven NCAA cross country team championships.
Over the years one of Wetmore's star protégés, Jenny Simpson, has realized that less is more when it comes to the advice she needs on the brink of her biggest races.
On Thursday, Simpson and another decorated alum from the CU track and field program, Emma Coburn, met a local media contingent to discuss their respective appearances in the upcoming summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. For Simpson, the 2016 games will be her first since realigning with Wetmore and CU assistant Heather Burroughs as her primary coaches.
And the understated approach perfected by Wetmore is something Simpson believes is exactly what she needs as she chases gold in the 1,500-meter race in South America.
"Mark, when it comes to race execution, is a man of few words," Simpson said. "It gives me less to have to digest and really focus on. While it is kind of funny, it also has become so valuable to me to know his advice and his assessment of my situation is going to be delivered in a concise way that I can really think about while I'm on the track.
"Mark is not one for big speeches, and I have come to really appreciate that. You can't be so rah-rah and worked up in the middle of a race, but you can focus in on those few mantras that he's provided you before a race."
Coburn, like Simpson, is being trained by her former college coach heading into the Rio games. That's not the only thing the duo has in common, as both athletes won their respective events a few weeks ago at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials (Coburn won the 3,000-meter steeplechase). They will spend the next few weeks training with Wetmore and Burroughs in Boulder before heading south with the U.S. Olympic track and field team on Aug. 8.
"Living in Boulder and being around the students here and still being somewhat involved with the program means a lot to me," Coburn said. "It feels like home. It feels like where I belong. It's a beautiful place to train every day, to go up in the mountains and run. It's easy to stay motivated here."
With both athletes boasting Olympic experience — Simpson will make her third Olympic appearance and Coburn her second — the former Buffaloes All-Americans are accustomed to such hurdles as the lengthy travel and security concerns. This year the possible pollution contamination in Rio and fears regarding the Zika virus are concerns that have moved a number of athletes to withdraw from the competition.
The former Buffs, though, are confident enough in their coaching and in the precautionary measures being taken by the USOC to focus solely on the goals in front of them.
"The USOC and the USTAF have done a really great job of distributing information about the actual risks," Simpson said. "It's my understanding there's also a couple programs we're going to be introduced to and have the ability to volunteer for. I appreciate the USOC is taking the risks seriously."