This weekend The Green Vale School’s girls running club, the Pacers, will be competing in and volunteering at the Runner's World Half Marathon and Festival in Bethlehem, Pa.
The first out-of-state venture for the team, these 8th-graders, who their coaches say fundraised more than $600 to cover their costs, will be attending running seminars, competing in the 5K portion of the weekend and volunteering at Sunday’s half marathon.
For the girls, setting a goal for race day is one of the biggest parts of this trip. “My goal for this 5K is to get under 25 minutes,” said Margaret Collett, 13, of Glen Cove. “My last 5K I got 25:06, so I wanted to beat that,” she explained.
Collett’s running partner Rachel Smithie, 13, of Locust Valley, added that with a previous finish time of 25:03, shaving at least a few seconds off would be ideal for her as well.
In fact, all of the girls eagerly chimed in that a 25-minute goal is one that they share.
While the Pacers tend to pair up with teammates who match their speed in practices, many said their plan for this race has changed.
Harriet Jones, 14, of Locust Valley, explained while she normally pairs with equally paced Olivia Brokaw, 14, also of Locust Valley, the pair have higher goals for the Pennsylvania race. “Margaret is a lot faster, so we’re going to try and run with her,” Jones said.
Team coaches Jennifer Moreano, Corinne Maron (who was on a school trip at the time of the interview) and Camissa Gallagher explained that, for many of the girls, running extends past the Pacers and into their home lives. “My mom used to run when she was probably in high school and she carried it through, and she still does and I think that was an important tradition,” said Bailey Hughes, 13, of Westbury.
Family tradition is a common element for many of the senior girls in Pacers. “My step-dad is a big runner,” said Brokaw, “he’s training for the [NYC] marathon ... and I really like to run with him because he pushes me and I feel like running has taught me things about myself and has shown me that I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was.”
Running under a team motto of “Be[you]tiful,” Moreano and Gallagher say that showing the girls the importance of inner beauty is key. “It’s not just about the outside, it’s about the inside. There’s just so much more than that meets the eye,” said Moreano, adding that the message is having a great impact on the girls.
Avery Weissman, 13, of Locust Valley, said for her the motto teaches her about the value of a person's individuality. “It defines who you are, that you have different trade marks and a different personality than everyone else.”
*Editors note: The Pacers had two medal finishers in the 15 and under age category: Margaret Collett - 2nd place - unofficial time - 23:07 and Avery Weissman - 3rd place - unofficial time - 24:48