Fast Faculty: 26 Andover Teachers and Staff Take on the Half-Marathon

Twenty-six Andover teachers and faculty ran The Wallis Sands Half Marathon in Rye, N.H., on Sunday. The all-female group, organized by a small group of faculty aiming to spread distance running on campus, ran a 13.1-mile course through beaches and forest.

Although the course was mainly flat, persistent headwinds along the coastline made the final stretch of the race the most difficult part, according to Jill Meyer ’09.

“Hills were not an issue, but along the coastline there was a very strong headwind that was pretty consistent and quite strong. So at the end, when you got back to the beach, it was nice to be back on the water, but then I was almost wishing I was back in the woods, because it was very windy, and at that point in the race I was pretty tired,” said Meyer.

The weather also proved to be a difficult factor on race day. Forecasts originally predicted a cloudy and cooler day, but it turned out to be hot and humid, according to Taylor Ware.

“It was definitely much hotter and more humid than any of my training runs had been, so I definitely did not feel great on the day of the race. I felt great in my couple of last long runs leading up to the day of the race. It was super humid and then the sun came out but it was still really muggy,” said Ware.

Tracy Ainsworth, Kassie Archambault, Eva Cirelli, Stephanie Curci, Jennifer Elliott ’94, Maggie Farnsworth, Anabelle Ferguson, Rebecca Hession, Lisa Joel, Catherine Kemp, Karen Knudson, Katherine Matheson, Meyer, Vimala Mohammed, Aya Murata, Christina Pontuso, Irene Tucker, Lisa Svec, Rachel Hyland, Amy Patel, Deb Olander, Marisela Ramos, Sarah Robinson, Heidi Wall, Taylor Ware, and Ellen Greenberg participated in the half marathon.

A small group of faculty and staff who normally train together presented the idea of the half marathon in May to the wider community of faculty back in the fall.

Svec said, “Organizing it, it was Lisa Joel, Amy Patel, Kassie Archambault and I, who run together a lot, saying, ‘let’s sign up for something, and then include others in it’… Because this race fills [up quickly], we started in October and we just sent it out to people, who sent it out to other people and it just spread and spread. Once one person knew that somebody they knew, who they might feel they were at the same level fitness as, was signing up, they wanted to sign up.”

In preparation for the half marathon, training sessions were held in the Snyder Center during the winter every Tuesday and Thursday night from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., in order to get people working together regardless of experience, according to Joel.

“We started a walking and running club Tuesday and Thursday nights. Our hope was to allow for a wider group of people to come together in a space, and they [could] go at whatever pace they wanted, but we could all be working out together. Then, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had a goal in mind’, and this half marathon that Ms. Svec knew about is a great entry half-marathon: it’s flat and in May. So we thought, if you are going to work out, have a goal, and why not [the half-marathon]?” said Joel.

Joel continued, “We wanted to demystify that you had to be a certain type of experienced runner. If you just wanted to come and walk, that was great too. We [also] chose this half marathon because you could enter as a walker… During the winter, we would have sometimes up to 25 people showing up as they could in the evening.”

Faculty and staff came together to cheer for each other on race day, according to Svec and Joel.

“It was so great to be there together at the start and to realize that everyone is at a different place in their goals and their fitness level, but that we all had the same goal of supporting, really encouraging one another and finishing. Everyone finished. There were 26 of us, and it was great to be there at the end line, cheering people on,” said Svec.

Joel said, “A number of first-time runners and first-time half marathoners were there, which just felt incredible to me. When I finished, there were Andover folks standing on the side cheering and then you just joined that group and you were cheering and looking for people. It just felt so supportive.”

Joel added, “I think when you are part of the team, the best part isn’t about you; it is about everyone else. I was most excited for those folks for who this was a little intimidating and were kind of running/walking.”

Catherine Carter (wife of Head of School John Palfrey) stood at the ten-mile mark cheering runners on.

“[Carter’s] support meant so much to folks at that point in the race,” wrote Svec in an email to The Phillipian.

According to Svec, she wishes for faculty to keep running in future years to come.

Svec said, “Hopefully, we are going to continue to do this, and have a couple times a year where we have a road race that we encourage others to sign up for, give each other some training tips and do it as a community event.”