It was one of the most anticipated American female marathon debuts ever. On May 19th, North Carolina high school sophomore Alana Hadley toed the line at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon looking to run somewhere in the neighborhood of 2:40 for her first crack at the 26.2 distance. Would she turn those 1:16:xx half marathons into marathon greatness? Would the 111 mile weeks pay off? Or would she crack under the pressure or crumble under the controversy that swirls around her?
Sixteen year-old Alana Hadley isn’t like most young American runners. She didn’t wait until middle school to pick up the sport; instead she began formal training at the ripe old age of 6. Unconventionally, she decoupled her running from her studies, choosing to forgo high school cross-country and track in favor of training on her own for road races under the watchful eye of her coach and father, Mark Hadley. Mark is the coach behind Molly Pritz’s debut 2:31 in the 2011 ING New York City Marathon and has coached many elite, sub-elite and average-Joe athletes. (You can read more about his coaching on his websites: Maximum Performance Running and Elite Marathoning).
Chances are you have a strong opinion about whether it was wise for such a young runner to attempt to race a marathon at such a high level and I invite you to share your opinions in the comments. I honestly wasn’t sure what I thought, but since Alana and Mark were going to be right in my neck of the woods, I headed to downtown Cleveland with Ginger the day before the race and sat down for a chat with them about being a young runner, about the controversy surrounding Alana’s jump to the marathon and about Mark’s training theories. Later, after the race, we discussed how her debut went and what’s next for Alana on the road less traveled. Read more >>