River Runner

CATEGORY: Student Life
TYPE: Articles
RELATED PROGRAMS: Athletics and Physical Education, Sociology

Magazine Cover
Published in Macalester Today

Photos: David J. Turner

Cross-country captain and distance runner Rachel Gunsalus ’13 (Los Gatos, Calif.) loves the Twin Cities, so it’s no surprise that Macalester’s location is a big part of her pitch to prospective students. “The best thing we can do to attract recruits is bring them to the Mississippi River and show them how we can run along it for miles without stopping,” she says. “It’s a great way to see both cities we live in.”

When she chose Mac four years ago, Gunsalus didn’t know how important those cities would turn out to be for her. “They’re more engaging than I ever imagined,” says the sociology major. “The Twin Cities have been good to me.” The advantages she’s gained include a paid internship at the Minnesota Department of Health’s rural health and primary care office, where her work has helped shape her honors thesis on how the Affordable Care Act affects the health of Minnesota’s migrant farmworkers. Later Gunsalus hopes to enter an MD/ MPH program to combine her passions for medicine and public health.

Rachel Gunsalus 13'Meanwhile, in athletics she’s had a good year too, including a cross-country season as one of the MIAC’s most improved runners. Although her recipe was simple—lots of summer training miles—her success was far-reaching: “She came back a transformed runner,” cross-country head coach Betsy Emerson says. “She has grown tremendously as a distance runner and a leader in our cross-country and track and field programs.”

Last fall, along with leading the team, Gunsalus finished in the top 25 at the Central Regional Championships, and just missed qualifying for nationals. She headed into the outdoor track season with new goals, excited to hit the river road trails in warmer weather.

Although she was born in Minnesota, Gunsalus spent most of her life in California. She didn’t grow up planning to return to her native state, but after four years at Macalester, plans have changed. “I never thought I’d come back here,” says the enthusiastic recruiter. “Now I absolutely want to stay.”

PUBLISHED: 04/23/2013