Today, two Union students will fulfill every long-distance runner’s dream: running the Boston Marathon.
Audrey Hazlehurst, first year pharmacy student, and Bailey Bell, junior economics major, are traveling to Boston with their families to run the race. Both are from Jackson, Tennessee and members of Union’s cross country team.
The Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon, takes runners on 26.2 miles of Boston’s winding roads and city streets. Last year, 31,925 runners from around the world crossed the finish line.
To enter, runners must have participated in a qualifying race at least 8 months prior to the Boston Marathon with a certain time depending on their gender and age. Hazlehurst, at a qualifying race in Louisville, Kentucky, ran a marathon in 3 hours and 6 minutes to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Bell ran the Andrew Jackson Marathon in Jackson, Tennessee to qualify, logging a time of 2 hours and 55 minutes.
Hazlehurst’s mother, Jackie Hazlehurst, will be running the race with her, as well as Beth Wilson, assistant coach of the cross country team. Wilson ran the Boston Marathon last year and included Audrey in her training with hopes that they would run the marathon together the following year.
“My mom ran the race when I was 8 years old, right around when I started to love running,” Hazlehurst said. “My whole family was there; cheering her on and I never dreamt then, that 14 years later I’d have the opportunity to run it with her.”
Bell completed his first marathon as a senior in high school. Since he already achieved the qualifying time to enter the Boston Marathon, he hopes to simply enjoy the race and not focus on running a certain time. Bell will begin the race in the first “wave” of runners based on his qualifying time, which is very close to the front behind the “elite” runners.
“I don’t have a specific time goal that I want to achieve,” Bell said. “I am really looking forward to being at the ‘apex’ of my running career, getting to run the race and enjoying it.”
The cross country team is currently participating in the non-competitive part of their season, which gives Hazlehurst and Bell more time to train for the marathon. Hazlehurst said while she is in-season she typically runs 6-8 miles a day, but while training for the marathon she adds mileage each day with the occasional 20-mile run for practice. Then, in the final weeks before the race, runners back off training.
“I really appreciate Coach Johnson giving us the opportunity to run,” Bell said. “The fact that we have two people on the same team in the same year, that’s pretty special.”