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Running down a dream

Jul 31, 2009
by Lou Dubois, '06

The next step for 2009 graduate and standout cross-country runner Ryan MacManus may be a career as an FBI profiler

For spring 2009 graduate Ryan MacManus, the past four years has had its lows – like being diagnosed with the debilitating Crohn’s disease that nearly ended his cross country running career.

But there have been far more highs, like battling back to top running form and being named 2008 Independent Runner of the Year. He even landed an internship with the FBI in what he hopes will eventually lead to a career as a criminal profiler.

Those accomplishments seemed out of reach in the spring of 2006 while MacManus was running on Flagler’s cross country team. He was experiencing constant fatigue, stomach aches and head aches, and finished last in a race in Gainesville – far from ordinary for an extraordinary runner.

He was eventually diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a severe inflammatory bowel disease that leads to an obstruction of the intestine and the formation of scar tissue. “I went from running 10 to 15 miles a day and loving it, to being told that walking up the stairs could put my heart into arrest,” he said.

MacManus was forced to cease strenuous activity for three months. “It certainly put things into perspective,” he said. “It gave me a new appreciation for being healthy and watching what I put into my body, because every decision can make a difference. And most importantly, running became more fun than ever.”

The results of MacManus’ newly found dedication were never clearer than during the 2008 season when he led the Flagler team to a 17th-place finish in the NCAA Division II South Regional.

His time in the classroom at Flagler, where he was a psychology major with a criminology minor, also ended pretty spectacularly. MacManus spent the spring semester interning at the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Quantico, Va., in the Behavioral Sciences Unit. He worked with field agents gathering research on subjects like workplace violence, sexual offenders, child pornography and counterterrorism.

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