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Running stays in the blood, just ask Georgetown College men's and women's cross country and track and field coaches Todd McDaniel and Betsy Laski.
Both very successful runners during their collegiate days as Tigers, but it has not stopped there. Each continues to compete and both have run the Boston Marathon. Laski did it first, running a year ago, while McDaniel got his crack at it this past spring.
"It is an experience unlike any other and a goal for most serious runners," McDaniel said. "It is something I'll never forget. People talk about the course and how difficult it is, add to that the heat that day, and it was definitely the toughest race I've ever done."
Temperatures started in the mid-70s and were in the high 80s by the end of the race back in mid-April.
McDaniel finished 759th overall out of 27,000 runners with a time of three hours, five minutes and 28 seconds over the 26.2-mile course. In a race, and sport, that is mostly individual challenges, runners often look to comrades to help push them along. McDaniel did not have to search too hard.
"Part of the uniqueness of this event for me was being able to run it with Michael Clemons," McDaniel said. "I coached him at Georgetown, helping him train and compete on that level, so it was really special to be out there on one of the biggest marathon stages running with him."
Clemons finished in just over four hours, 4:20.19. Both had goals of beating the three-hour mark.
"You set goals, but also have to realize there are circumstances and conditions beyond your control," McDaniel said. "I qualified for the race by running in 50-degree weather in December 2010. I'm a stubborn runner, but there were times those medical tents looked like the best decision. You just have to push past those mental barriers.
"I couldn't be more proud of what Michael and I accomplished that day."
The coach had another race this past year, the Bourbon Chase, where he actually ran on a team of former Tiger runners. Mike Schardein, Scott Ritter and McDaniel helped their team to a third place finish in 20 hours, 19 minutes and 24 seconds. This race starts in Clearmont, KY and ends in Lexington, KY over a two-day period in a relay type format for the runners. Teams consist of 12 runners and this past October 250 teams competed.
Laski, less than three months after giving birth to her first child Olivia Wren, improved upon her 2011 third place finish in the Bluegrass 10k with a second place finish.
"I guess when you are a runner, you are always a runner," Laski said. "The finish was great, but for me I just love getting out there and running."
It is races such as these that also help both coaches stay connected to what it is like for their athletes and some of the challenges they face throughout the season. Both enter their third season as head coaches of the cross country programs and fourth in track and field.
Georgetown has steadily improved each year and McDaniel and Laski have high expectations for this coming fall. Each has added several recruits that will provide more depth and help push the returners in practices.
"Every runner brings a new dimension to the program," Laski said. "Whether it is in the way they push each other in practice or learn how to work together inside races, it is always fun to watch the new dynamics."
|National Tournament 5/24-30|