Will Neely Spence Gracey be America’s next marathon star?
Turning a focus to the marathon for many elite athletes can be inevitable. The marathon is a distance that requires many years of running in one’s legs to perform well. And while some elite runners progress in distance as their times start to waiver on the track, other use the distance to celebrate a long block of training, as Laura Thweatt did when she debuted at the New York City Marathon after missing last year’s track season due to injury. Even track star Galen Rupp took on the distance this February when he ran his first 26.2 at the Olympic Trials in Los Angeles.
As an elite athlete how do you decide which is the right marathon to debut?
For Neely Spence Gracey her destiny is in the Boston Marathon. She was born on Patriot’s Day as her father 1991 World Champs Marathon Bronze medalist Steve Spence was running that day.
“Every year, I hear the story that I was born while my Dad was running the Boston Marathon in 1990. When I knew I couldn’t run in the Olympic Trials this year, the next thing was Boston, and it just fell into place and it seems like a perfect fit,” Gracey tells Sandrock in his article on Competitor.com.
It probably also didn’t hurt that her sponsor adidas is the Featured Sponsor of the Boston Marathon.
While Neely just moved to Boulder a year ago she is no stranger to the area as she used to come to Colorado as a kid so her father could train at altitude.
“I grew up knowing that being a professional runner was an option,” Gracey says. “Until I was 7, we’d come out to Boulder for my dad’s training every summer. I did not know everyone didn’t do that—that kids don’t go to Colorado for their dad’s altitude training.”
You can see her smiling face, along with her trusty training partner, Strider on the cover of this month’s Runner’s World (shot by Denver photographer Matte Trappe) and Competitor Magazine (shot by Boulder’s James Carney).
What is Neely most excited for on Patriots Day? “I’m a little terrified of the distance so will def [sic] be counting on the adrenaline of the energy in the crowd to get me through the 26 miles.”
“I know that I won’t get everything right, I’m not expecting a perfect race, I just hope I can get enough right that I can have a positive experience and begin a strong marathon career.” Neely added.
The special thing about the marathon is that it truly is a journey. I am sharing with you a glimpse of my preparation. Thank you David Bracetty for creating this video for me, and thank you Adidas and all my other sponsors for the support. I am happy about the stepping stone of my race yesterday… 7 weeks to go! #RunBold
Posted by Neely Spence Gracey on Monday, February 29, 2016
Family photos of Neely Spence Gracey and father Steve Spence.
Photos courtesy of Steve Spence via Mike Sandrock.