He’s a Star Runner and a Budding Doctor
Cross country and track standout Aksel Laudon shines on and off the course
Walk into a BU cross country practice, and it isn’t long before you hear a phrase that has come to define the program: “Be the standard.” The mantra is designed to push the team to set a benchmark for excellence—both at BU and across the NCAA—through hard work in the classroom and on the course.
And Aksel Laudon, his coaches and teammates agree, is the standard.
Track and cross country runner Laudon (ENG’22, CAMED’26) is competing with the cross country team this fall, his final season of eligibility. Over a six-year career, he has become one of the best runners in the Patriot League. But his academic accomplishments have made him one of the most accomplished students off the field as well as on.
Laudon was named Patriot League Indoor Track & Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2023, made the league’s academic honor roll six times and the Academic All-Patriot League team twice, was on the Dean’s List all eight semesters of his undergraduate career, and was co-valedictorian of the College of Engineering Class of 2022. Now, he’s pursuing an MD at BU’s Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.
Despite the punishing demands of medical school, he’s remained dedicated to his cross country and track career, which requires six to seven days of training a week—plus meets held across New England, and on occasion, across the country.
“It’s a lot, but the coaches have been pretty understanding that, especially with medical school, school has to take precedence sometimes,” Laudon says. “But I think that BU undergrad has prepared me well for the workload.”
Jordan Carpenter, associate head cross country coach, says Laudon has become a “huge piece” of the Terriers’ program. “Good is not in Aksel Laudon’s vocabulary. It’s about being great. It’s about being elite, and that spans everything he does.”
On the course and the track, Laudon is one of the Terriers’ strongest runners, finishing first in the open 5K at the 2022 Battle in Beantown, with a time of 15:32. He also notched a personal best 8K time of 24:28.9 at last year’s Lehigh Paul Short Invite, placing 13th, and posted a personal best 4:01.32 mile time at the Boston University David Hemery Valentine Invite last spring.
“He will put in the work, he will grind, he will take himself to a place mentally where he will hurt,” Carpenter says. “That’s his style. He’s able to push himself to the limit, and that’s what makes him great. If we had 20 Aksel Laudons on this team, that’s a dream team.”
Driven by that workmanlike mentality, Laudon has made a significant leap in his running career during the past two years.
“He went from being a pretty good runner, making finals at some Patriot League meets, to being one of the best runners in the Patriot League, and coming close to that four-minute mile barrier that’s kind of illustrious in the running world,” his coach says. “It comes down to him not being willing to give up, and continuing to show back up day after day, week after week, month after month, because that’s what it takes in this sport to be great.”
But for all of his athletic accomplishments, perhaps Laudon’s most impressive accolades have come in the classroom and lab. He graduated from ENG with a degree in biomedical engineering and a 4.0 GPA. He’s also taken on several demanding research projects. This past summer, he worked with Frederick Drake, an associate professor of surgery at the BU medical school, on a project focused on appendicitis diagnostic coding under the auspices of the school’s Medical Student Summer Research Program (MSSRP). Prior to that, he worked on a project at the medical school through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program that investigated proteinuric kidney disease by studying patterns of protein expression in genetically modified mouse kidneys.
Growing up in Phoenix, Ariz., Laudon always had an inkling that he wanted to become a doctor. “Just the opportunity to be able to contribute to the community and give back at the same time as keeping my passion for human body physiology,” Laudon says, “I had that in the back of my mind.”
He had his sights set on medical school shortly after arriving as a BU undergrad.
“It was kind of everything I hoped for in a career,” Laudon says. “I could be person-facing, work on a team, do something at the highest level, and explore questions that I had, intellectually, about science. So it kind of had a mix of everything.”
As a sophomore, he participated in the Modular Medical/Dental Integrated Curriculum (MMEDIC), and through that, he was accepted to the Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. While he doesn’t yet know what kind of doctor he wants to be, he’s become interested in surgery in recent years, he says, and is looking forward to beginning clinical rotations next year, which will give him experience working directly with patients.
Laudon says his curiosity about the human body has gone hand in hand with his running career. “Being a competitive runner, I was always thinking from an early age, how does my body work, and how can I get more out of it?” he recalls. “I was always super curious as a kid.”
Good is not in Aksel Laudon’s vocabulary. It’s about being great. It’s about being elite, and that spans everything he does.
Carpenter says he’s seen that curiosity at work on a daily basis.
“You can sit down, and he’ll talk your ear off about all these various topics, because he’s really interested in them,” Carpenter says. “I think on the running side, it’s the same thing. He has a really strong passion and interest in the sport of running, in this program, his teammates, and I think it’s a combination of those things that leads him to do the stuff that he’s been doing.”
Juggling the demands of a Division 1 running schedule with a medical school curriculum is grueling, and Laudon’s teammates say that his constant studying has become something of a running joke.
“Every single time on a team trip, he has his laptop in hand,” says Kevin Murphy (Questrom’23,’24), Laudon’s teammate on the cross country and track teams since 2019. “There have been countless times in the airport, before we even get to security, if there’s five minutes, he’ll sit on the floor, open the laptop, or a textbook. I’m always asking him what unit he’s on, kind of making fun of him for studying too hard, always asking him what his most recent test grade was. If it’s anything below a 98, I’m like, ‘Come on, man. You gotta do better than that.’”
Because his 2020 season was shut down by COVID-19, Laudon used an extra year of NCAA eligibility to run for both cross country and track last season. He’s eligible to run cross country this fall because he missed his sophomore year after being sidelined by an injury. As he begins to wind down an illustrious athletic career, he’ll continue to try to best his personal record in the mile, he says, and crack the elusive four-minute mark.
But as he reflects back on his time at BU, Laudon says the time spent with his teammates means more than any personal-best records or awards.
“What keeps me going is the team, and being able to do it on a day-to-day basis,” he says. “Running by yourself is fun, but the reason why I’m running for BU is because I want to see where this team goes and be able to spend more time with the team.”
Aksel Laudon and the BU cross country team travel to Hamilton, N.Y., for the Patriot League Championships on Saturday, October 28. Fans can keep up with the team on GoTerriers.com and on X (formerly Twitter) @TerrierTFXC.