Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By CHRIS BREWER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa senior Marta Bote Gonzalez may not see a professional racing career on the other side of college, but that does not mean she can’t still be in the game.
Gonzalez, the Hawkeyes’ school record-holder in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, graduates in May with a bachelor of arts degree in marketing. After next month’s graduation and what hopes to be a repeat appearance at the NCAA Championships, she’s headed back home to Europe, where she’ll pursue a master’s degree from the University of Amsterdam and an internship at Nike’s European headquarters.
“I’ve had a blast here,” said Gonzalez, who enrolled at Iowa in 2014 following a prestigious prep career in Merida, Spain. “But I feel the need to be closer to my family, so I’m going back Europe. I’ll be an hour-and-a-half plane ride from home. I’m very excited.”
Gonzalez’s studies are confirmed — she has been admitted to Amsterdam’s one-year graduate program — but she is still chasing the opportunity at Nike. She has applied for and received an interview, moving one step closer to realizing an opportunity that combines two things she’s passionate about — running and marketing.
Gonzalez was a national champion and junior Spanish record holder in the steeplechase before becoming a Hawkeye in 2014. Over the last four-plus years, she has continued circling tracks and cross country fields, accumulating school records, NCAA appearances, and Big Ten points along the way.
She has also been an involved student, earning three All-Big Ten and two USTFCCCA academic honors, and working with the Iowa sports marketing department from June of last year to February 2018.
As an undergraduate student assistant, she was involved in promotions at basketball games, soccer matches, wrestling duals, and other athletic events. She welcomed incoming freshmen to campus during orientation, selling season-ticket packages for upcoming football and basketballs seasons; and she helped produce the international Fight For Iowa video that featured Iowa student-athletes on campus — herself included.
“I had so much fun and enjoyed my time with everyone in the department,” Gonzalez said. “It was a cool experience.”
She cut the experience short in February, deciding to focus her time on balancing her final outdoor track and field season and 16-credit class schedule.
“I thought it was too much to travel every weekend and get ready for races,” Gonzalez said. “It was sad, but I knew it was best for me and the department.”
Her senior season got off to a slow start. She pulled out of her first race at the Stanford Invitational on March 30 after experiencing pain in her hip flexor. She rehabbed for two weeks, sticking primarily to the elliptical, cross training, and other low impact exercises.
She felt pain-free prior to the Musco Twilight meet on April 12, finally working in some water jumps and winning the steeplechase race in 10:53.67.
“It was good to feel pain-free in the race,” she said. “That’s a good step. I just have to be careful to stay healthy.”
The next step is the Mt. SAC Invitational on April 21. The Drake Relays are on deck April 27-28, and the Big Ten Championships are March 11-13. It was last year at the Big Ten Championships that Gonzalez said she felt her season come together, and she is hoping for similar results in 2018.
“Last year I started the season unhappy,” she said. “I was not running good times, but ended up qualifying for regionals at Big Tens and picking up points for the team, so this year if I get healthy, I hope to at least improve my standings and get back to NCAAs.”
The NCAA opening round is in Sacramento, California, on May 24-26. The top 12 finishers advance to Eugene, Oregon.
“Nationals is always the goal,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a tough goal, but it’s definitely a goal.”
Sacramento or Eugene… one of those two places could mark the end of Gonzalez’s road trip through the United States, but her Hawkeye journey will continue to Amsterdam.
“It has been a blast,” Gonzalez said. “Being a Hawkeye has been a really cool experience.”