Twenty Six Miles 'Is nothing' for Asbury runners

By Morgan Schutters, a sophomore from Berea, Ky.

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Aaron Linard running cross country during the season.

WILMORE— It’s cold outside. Not just cold, but bitter cold. Yet this weather doesn’t thwart the Asbury college cross country team.

Freshman Aaron Linard forces his callused and blistered feet into his sneakers. “It will all be worth it after the marathon is over and I’ve done it – I’ve really finished it,” he tells himself. Just a few more months of hours of long runs and then the big race—the one he and his teammates have been anticipating.

He slips out of his dorm room, sprints to the Luce center, and stretches out, ready to push his body to the limit. When he opens the outside door and feels the artic burst of January chill in the air, he shivers. “It feels like a freezer out here.” He shrugs it off and stretches his sore, tired muscles some more in the climate this time. Then he starts his jog crunching through the frost-covered grass. A slow pace at first and then faster. He’ll beat his time today. He feels strong and powerful.

As he makes the final bend toward Trustees, he sees the golden sun peeking though the cloudy sky. It’s worth it. Sweat dripping from his face, he turns it to the bright, beautiful sun.

Asbury College’s Cross Country team is going for mileage. The runners ran the Kentucky Derby Marathon and half marathon last year and are going for faster times with more participants for the 2008 run. Celebrating 35 years, Louisville’s Kentucky Derby Festival mini marathon has grown from a small local road race into one of the largest half-marathons in the United States. Runners from all 50 states and several foreign countries annually complete the scenic 13.1-mile course that finishes in downtown Louisville. The mini marathon now attracts more than 7,500 entrants each year, and is ranked among the nation's top 50 races by USA Track and Field.

Linard, top runner of the Asbury College Men’s cross-country team is going for the full 26-mile marathon. “I want to run this to accomplish a goal. It will bring the cross country team together as a whole and really spark interest in the team in general,” he said.

So what does it feel like to train for this event? Blood, sweat, tears, pain, love, hate…

Ashley Jeffries, an Asbury College junior art major and 3-year cross-country veteran says, “The marathon will be a personal challenge. Many are scared away from the marathon. I hope that the campus will see the discipline of running in this.”

This discipline is not only physical; it is emotional and spiritual discipline as well. This kind of running is good for your head, heart, and soul.

Large and enthusiastic crowds line the sidewalks along the route. Volunteers handle duties ranging from race registration to handing out bottled water and orange slices. The course is scenic, yet challenging, including a hilly stretch.

Carolyn Tegge, the top runner for the Asbury women’s cross-country team recalls the marathon last year. She will take it on again this year. “It is painful to run a marathon,” she said. “Your body aches, your mind tells you to stop. You ask God if he will help you through. You wonder why you’re doing this to yourself. You want to quit. You keep going for no reason other than the end goal – the finish line.”

The Asbury cross-country men’s and women’s teams don’t run for credit, recognition or praise. They run for God and themselves. They push their bodies to the limit in order to accomplish greatness. It’s a feeling that can only be expressed through the eyes of a runner taking part in this magical kind of running.

For more information about how you can participate in running this marathon, visit http://www.derbyfestivalmarathon.com.


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