McCrickard Runs for the Glory of God

By Mark Janssen

​Simply put, Joshua McCrickard … J-Mac to his friends … runs for the glory of God.

​“God has blessed me with the ability to run,” said McCrickard, the lone senior on this year’s Manhattan Christian College cross country team. “I discovered that I look forward to those six- and eight-mile training runs, and the competitions. Each day I ask: ‘What does God have instore for me today?’ 

​“I don’t have to win to glorify God,” McCrickard continued. “My race may go well, or the race may not be the greatest. As long as I can look in a mirror and know that I gave everything I had, I can smile and say that I ran for God’s glory.”

​McCrickard’s running days got off to … well, a walking start.

​Growing up as the middle boy of three, McCrickard said, “I was the non-athletic one. I didn’t run … I walked.”

​But then came a mega-move in his life entering his junior year in high school.

​With J-Mac saying he had never been further west in the USA than eastern Tennessee, the McCrickard family made the move from Jacksonville, Fla., and the Atlantic Ocean, for Plainville, Kansas, with Paradise Creek and Plainville Township Lake. 

The Jacksonville metropolitan area has a population of 1.6 million. Plainville, in northcentral Kansas, topped the 1,900 mark when the McCrickard family moved to town when his father took over the pulpit in the First Christian Church.

​“Plainville is really a small town where everyone knows your name,” said McCrickard. “Our first day was so hot and windy, I wondered, ‘How do people live here?’ “

​Growing up as a minister’s son, McCrickard had no choice but to grow up in a Godly home, but the fact is, “I never fought it. I enjoyed singing in the choir and I had good Sunday School teachers in the youth program.”

​At only 5-foot-3ish and no more than 130 pounds in a rain storm, it’s in Plainville where McCrickard decided to try to become an athlete.

​“I decided to be a sprinter, but that didn’t last,” he said with a slight smile. “Coach put me in the two-mile and it stuck with me. I remember finishing last … and I mean last … in some races, but I got better.”

​The summer before his senior season, McCrickard did training runs around the 1.24 square miles of the city of Plainville, plus ventured out into God’s work of the Smokey Hills for longer jaunts in his Pay Less Shoe Store running shoes.

​“It sounds crazy, but I found it fun to be dropped out in the middle of nowhere and have to run home,” said McCrickard, who says his graduation class was a whopping 34. “It was so much more fun than running around a track. Running became an escape where I could connect with God and truly enjoy all the different creations you would see every day. You see all the different cloud formations and how they can change every five minutes and just understand that God is even bigger than you thought he was.”

​It’s through running that McCrickard combined all his passions in life. He could sing. He could marvel at cloud formations. He could study landscapes. All he describes as, “… a pretty cool combination.”

​McCrickard enrolled at MCC four years ago with a major in Bible Leadership and continued his running career under coach Larry Olson. He was also able to jog across the street to first major in vocal music at Kansas State University, and later Geography.

​The first year was any way but easy.

​He marveled at his K-State vocal teacher, but it was more a professional singing major where he learned the Italian diction. 

​“I enjoyed the music theory classes, but I’m a more practical singer,” said McCrickard, who said he was the “go to singer for national anthems” back in Plainville. “I just realized early that I’d be happier with a Geography major.”

​And the introduction to Christian college running?

​“I came in thinking I was fast, but I was wrong,” said McCrickard with his eyes drifting into the past. “I remember in the first race I somehow got lost on the course. I remember looking around and the course was gone and I was by myself. That was pretty embarrassing. Needless to say that’s the only time I lost a course.”

​With time, McCrickard’s times started to plummet. He went from just wanting to finish a five-mile race, to last year qualifying for the National Christian College Athletic Association meet where he was clocked in 34:22 and placed 41st, to this year where last month he ran a personal record of 31:42.

​“Now that was a thrill,” said McCrickard. And with another national meet coming up, which will be his last collegiate run for the Thunder on Nov. 12 in Jackson, Mississippi, he says, “I would really like to get down to 30:30, or something like that.”

​In McCrickard, MCC coach RJ Robinson says, “He’s been a blessing to coach. He has worked so hard and improved so much.”

​Whatever the time may be at Nationals, McCrickard knows that he will give his best for the Glory of God.

​It was a few weeks ago, he recalled, “I was running at a meet near Newton where there was a lake and a red sunset. I just said, ‘That’s God right there. He’s out here with me. No matter my time, God is here with me.”

MCC Scoreboard

9/14/2019 | Mens Soccer at Southwestern College | L, 4-1 
9/14/2019 | Womens Soccer at Southwestern College | L, 13-0 
9/13/2019 | Womens Volleyball vs. Ozark Christian College | W, 3-0 
9/10/2019 | Mens Soccer at University of Saint Mary | L, 4-3 (OT)
9/10/2019 | Womens Soccer at University of Saint Mary | L, 10-0