People of Winston: Donnie Cowart

Leslie Williams
Get to know Donnie Cowart, a co-owner of Crazy Running and one of the top athletes in the area.

Donnie Cowart has the titles- NCAA Division 1 All American, 10 time USA Championship steeplechase qualifier, and a sub 4 minute miler. He traveled European circuits and competed in races all over the US. And he’s not done yet. While averaging over hundred and forty miles per week, Cowart is often running through Reynolda Village, Salem Lake, or on the greenways as he has pivoted to running the marathon distance. With a smile he reports “it’s been a fun change and adjustment.”

In his disappointment being cut from the middle school basketball team, Cowart decided to try out for cross country and found success. He had an instant group of friends and a place of belonging, and he was steadily improving each year. He accepted a full athletic scholarship at Virginia Military Institute, where he made NCAA championships, becoming a Division 1 All American in the steeplechase event- a 3000m race that requires a runner to jump 35 obstacles, 7 of which are water obstacles. At the age of twenty six, he ran in the steeplechase Olympic Trials in 2012, placing 4th, and went to the trials again in 2016, placing 8th.

Cowart was preparing for his final Olympic trial in 2020, entering as one of the oldest steeplechase qualifiers at that time. Due to the pandemic, his Olympic plans were altered.  “I did a lot of soul searching for the rest of that year, trying to figure out what I was going to do.” He was grieving- his identity, the joy of the event, chasing his goals. After contemplating how to continue to run competitively at his age, he decided to tackle the marathon distance for which he is already finding success. His next goal? Run a marathon in two hours and ten minutes at his upcoming race in Duluth, MN

In the meantime, Cowart is co-owner of Crazy Running, an organization providing children ages 2 to 17 the opportunity to engage in running activities to challenge and promote athletic lifestyles.  Crazy Running has expanded into 13 elementary schools and into multiple cities throughout the state as well as GA and MD. In working with kids in the community and providing personal coaching for people of all ages, Cowart brings energy and enthusiasm to the Winston running community.

May 18, 2022