Who Is Dylan Beard?

After a spur-of-the-moment decision led to an upset at the Millrose Games, this Walmart associate has set his sights on the 2024 Olympics.

On Feb. 11, 2024, inside The Armory in New York City, eight runners prepared for the 60m hurdle. For those watching on TV, the camera panned over the faves in the center lanes as the commentators ran through their list of accolades: numerous medals, championships and world teams. In the moment before the race started, the camera zoomed out to show the full starting line, giving the first glimpse of the unknown runner in lane one. 

Less than eight seconds later, after the lane one runner crossed the finish line in first place, the commentators stuttered out his name: “Is that…Dylan Beard?”

Ep. 1 - Introducing Dylan Beard

So, who is Dylan Beard? After his stunning Millrose Games win at 7.44 seconds — breaking the Armory record of 7.45s set by Allen Johnson in 2002 — he became the third fastest hurdler in the world and a Team USA hopeful for the upcoming 2024 Olympics in Paris. But when he’s not getting set at the starting line, he’s working the deli line at Store 5254 in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Hurdling Toward Paris

Dylan Beard contains multitudes. He has a strict routine but an easy-going attitude. He meticulously logs his runs and progress in a spiral notebook but will come to the Millrose Games looking “to have some fun.” He’s been smashing track and field records since he started running in high school but also found time to get a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a master’s in public health. 

He’s up at sunrise to run drills with his coach at North Carolina State University and brings that same energy and dedication into Walmart for his shift at sunset. 

“The goal has always been to go to the Olympic trials and make the Olympic team. Now it’s more at the forefront because of how well I’ve been doing.”

“I came down here to start training for track and field as a professional athlete. Before I came down here, I applied to Walmart and got the job right the next day,” Dylan shares. 

“I first met Dylan in the hiring process,” explains David Davis, stocking coach at Store 5254. “Dylan was very quiet and timid, but he had a certain aura to him that I was like ok, there’s something special about him.”

Ep. 2 - Mastering the Craft

It wasn’t until the Millrose Games win that Dylan’s fellow associates realized he was competing at a professional level in track and field — and harboring an Olympic dream.

Dylan credits his Walmart team with helping him stay balanced in his exhausting always-has-somewhere-to-be schedule and supporting his dreams on the track, and that support, says Dylan’s current track and field coach Reuben McCoy, directly impacts his performance. 

“I think he’s getting great support from Walmart, and obviously, you know, being able to balance work and practice alone, you know, that’s not easy. Some people can only do a 9 to 5, and that’s it. That takes all their energy out that they have in a day to give,” says Coach McCoy. “Dylan’s able to do that and come out and give high level, productive practice.”

Getting on Track

Dylan grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and started running track his sophomore year of high school. He fell in love with running and set several school records — a few which still hold today. His college prospects were bright, but a fractured tailbone during a race in his senior year slowed his progress.

“I couldn’t necessarily see what was going to happen in the future with running,” Dylan says. “I had just, you know, gotten this love for the sport and now I can’t run or don’t have the right resume or qualifications to specifically run where I want to run.”

The next few years were a series of highs and lows: starting college and then transferring schools, trying to adjust to being a student and athlete during the pandemic, working with new coaches, moving to different states, the back-to-back losses of his brother and grandmother, contemplating pharmacy school and, like so many of us, trying to decide what direction to take his life. All the while, he kept running. 

“Running’s always the same…It’s not the running that’s difficult. Adapting to new environments, meeting new people, getting the structure of the school, new coaches as well – that’s the hardest part,” Dylan shares.

When asked if he’d ever thought about giving up, the answer is quick: “Most definitely.” After a disappointing 40th finish at the 2023 NCAA Regionals, Dylan thought that might be the end, that his track dreams might be bigger than he could actually deliver. 

“That performance hit me hard,” Dylan confides. “I said I was gonna give it up.” 

But a bad race, and the fear of another, can’t decide everything. It’s more important, he said, to replace that bad race or experience with a good one. He decided instead to go pro.

“Fear is one of the things that set many people back from reaching accomplishments, and as a hurdler, you have to be able to take that fear of a barrier and push that to the side and say that I have a goal that I need to accomplish,” said Coach McCoy. “Dylan has taken, you know, his courage and put that to the forefront and made sure that every time he steps to that race, he’s going to get the best out of himself.”

Running His Own Race

Dylan keeps a container on his desk at home filled with slips of paper: a positivity jar. At the beginning of 2024, he started noting things that made him laugh or moments that brought him joy, any positive tidbit that he could look at when he’s feeling low or needing a reminder of something good. But these days there have been too many good things to write down — and most of them, he doesn’t need to document to remember.  

Explore Dylan's desk to find out what keeps him motivated.

“It’s all a big sacrifice at the end of the day, but it’s more like I have my game face on, and I’m ready to go. I’m ready to get good results.”

In the whirlwind since the Millrose Games, everyone, even the TODAY show, has wanted to chat with the runner who has his sights set on Paris, but Dylan stays focused on his next race with the help of his team at Walmart. 

“It’s a lot easier, a lot better with the support of Walmart. I mean, it gives me kind of a boost of encouragement to have this store particularly behind my back, but Walmart in general,” Dylan says.  “It means the world, honestly.”

And what’s next? Hopefully Team USA and a ticket to Paris.

“I’m excited for it. I’m ready to step up to the plate and be at the Olympic trials, and, ya know, have the possibility to shock the world and make the team.”

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