The BackusEffect: From Hip Surgery in January to D3 All-American in November

When Joe Backus felt a nagging in his hip, he sought a second opinion to make sure it wasn’t serious. A few days later he learned he had a femoral stress fracture, a hip impingement and a torn labrum. Joe elected to get surgery in January of 2022 which began his long road to recovery.

Joe wasn’t allowed to run until June. Before then, he was slowly building up on the bike but kept it within reason as to not injure his hip again. When he was cleared to run, he started at two minutes and was able to add two minutes every other day. Even with the slow build, Joe kept the faith because people believe in him.

By the time he got back to campus, he was up to 30 minutes of running and getting close to 30 miles a week. On September 16th, 2022 – nine months post surgery, Joe put back on the John Carroll singlet and raced. The race wasn’t pretty (29:07, 200th) but being back out there was everything to Joe. He knew his hard work was paying off.

From there, Joe just kept getting better. By the time conference rolled around, he broke into JCU’s top seven as their seventh man and finishing 17th in the OAC. This result earned a spot on the starting line at Regionals where he finished seventh overall and JCU’s second man. The momentum was building and capped it off with a 31st place finish to become an All-American.

Injuries happen in running but it’s how you handle that dictates what you can accomplish. Joe showed that sticking to the plan and harnessing the powers of other’s beliefs, you can go far.


On the belief from others:

“What kept me going was the people who believed in me. When I got the surgery, I lost a lot of belief in myself and then people kept telling me, ‘I believe in you. You’re going to do this. I can’t wait to see you run again.’”

On giving advice to others with injuries

“I’d say just be ready to not have control over everything. Like for me, I can be very controlling or I want things to be controlled. And so throughout this process, you just have to realize that not everything is going to go your way. There are going to be some days with more pain. There’s going to be days where you don’t want to do the training and just realize that if you have a goal, you just have to go for it and that you need to be ready for anything to happen.”

On racing in the postseason

“When I went out there, I just had no fear. I just kept faith that everything had worked out for a reason.

On JCU team culture

“It’s nice seeing how everyone is committed to our team and how they’re super happy for our success.

On the recruiting process

“It’s good to be celebrated, but I wanted to go to a place where everybody is celebrating and we’re all of our work. And where everyone’s doing is getting worked at, not just one person.”

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