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Marathon Ambition

Stetson seniors Brianne Boldrin (left) and Laurie Scott proved to be inspirations themselves in Philadelphia.

All the way until near the end, Brianne Boldrin thought the 26.2 miles were a piece of cake. It was her first marathon race, and she was cautioned about “hitting the wall” – the moment when it doesn’t seem possible to continue running. Boldrin kept waiting and waiting.

“The whole first 23 miles, I was like, ‘This is great; this is so pretty; I love this,’” she recounts. “Then in the last three miles my legs absolutely died. … I don’t know how much farther I would have made it at that pace.”

Laurie Scott was in cruise control for more than 16 miles before her “rough patch,” as she labels it. “At miles 17, I was thinking what did Bri convince me to do. Then mile 20 was my turnaround,” she says.

For 17 miles, they ran together, with Boldrin eventually moving ahead, and at the finish line they shared the same thought: Let’s do this again!

Actually, it didn’t exactly happen that way. Boldrin finished the race in three hours, 13 minutes and 26 seconds. Scott came in at three hours, 17 minutes and 29 seconds, approximately a half-mile behind. Also, it took about five minutes for Boldrin to truly react to the moment, which was about the time she saw Scott again. Then Boldrin’s words to her: “That was awesome. Can we do it again? Maybe give me a weekend [to recover].”

Boldrin and Scott – friends and senior teammates on the women’s cross country team at Stetson – completed the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon on Nov. 20, braving temperatures in the 40s and successfully navigating the city’s historic downtown plus the scenic views of Fairmount Park and the Schuylkill River, with neighborhood crowds lining parts of the course to cheer.

The Philadelphia Marathon has roots dating back to at least the 1920s. In 1994, the current race began with 1,500 participants. Now, there are more than 30,000 runners, and the event has become one of the top-10 marathons in the nation. For the record, Boldrin placed 15th in the 20-24 age category while Scott placed 20th. Their times enable them to qualify for other big-city races across the globe, including the New York and Boston marathons. For comparison sake, the average time for a runner in this year’s New York Marathon exceeded four hours. They join Ryan Newfrock, a senior on the men’s cross country team, as marathon runners currently enrolled at Stetson.

OK, so after finishing the race they were too tired to run the “Rocky Steps” leading up to the Rocky Statue, two of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia, but their marathon experience was a knockout.

Their performances also were in typical style – from challenge to achievement and with an eye on more.

Call it marathon ambition.

Scott and Boldrin finished 20th and 15th, respectively, in their age group, qualifying them for even more prestigious marathons.

Each arrived at Stetson in fall 2013 as recruits to play soccer, not cross country. Boldrin arrived from Cary, N.C., following a stellar athletic career in soccer, cross country and indoor track. At Stetson, she played soccer as a freshman and sophomore, making the Atlantic Sun All-Academic Team that second year.

Scott, from Stuart, Fla., also was a standout in high school, even adding flag football to her resume. At Stetson, she initially “redshirted” as a nonplaying team member in soccer then played as a sophomore, also earning Atlantic Sun All-Academic honors.

Their moves to cross country in spring 2015 were a natural and paid immediate dividends, providing more personal time as well as athletic satisfaction, they explain.

“I just like to run,” says Scott, a double major in biology and integrated health science.

“With running, you can’t escape being fit,” comments Boldrin, a double major in business systems and mathematics.

That’s where the idea of a marathon first kicked up its heals.

Upon arrival on campus, they became fast friends (literally) and trained together on long runs. “That’s how we learned our way around DeLand,” Scott describes.

“I’m such a scenic-run person,” Boldrin says. “When I go on vacation, I want to run but not just to stay fit. … When you’re running somewhere, you really understand the city and the places that you’re at.”

As seniors and with their cross-country season ending at the NCAA South Region Championships on Nov. 11, the timing was perfect for a run through the City of Brotherly Love.

“I’ve always wanted to do a marathon, and what better time to do it than when I’m really in shape,” Boldrin reasoned. “I’m the type of person where if I’m going to do something, I want to do it kind of big.”

“We just continued our training,” adds Scott. “Actually, we didn’t do as hard a workout.”

Next April’s running of the Boston Marathon is closed to new entrants, and access to the New York Marathon next November is iffy because of its great popularity. Yet, their marathon ambition hasn’t slowed.

Scott has applied to medical school and is preparing for Stetson’s spring rowing season – yes, she competes at rowing, too. Boldrin already has a post-graduation job lined up at IBM in Raleigh, N.C., as a data scientist in pricing analytics. She starts in June.

Meanwhile, their quest to answer “can we do it again?” continues.

“I kind of got hooked now,” Boldrin concludes.

“I’m thinking, ‘Can I beat my time?’” Scott says.

“When I got home [from Philadelphia], my family was asking, ‘All right, Laurie, so when’s the next one?’ My mom was already sending me links to nearby marathons.”

-Michael Candelaria