Local student qualifies for Boston Marathon
Clayton Irvine, senior at Pocahontas County High School, has been long-distance running for about four years now. Irvine has participated in organized half-marathons and 5Ks in the past, but recently ran his first full marathon at Harpers Ferry.
“It was the Freedom's Run Marathon up at Sheperdstown,” Irvine said. “We started at Harper's Ferry National Park and we ended at the stadium at Sheperdstown University. It was sponsored by, I think, the West Virginia University health program.”
According to www.freedomsrun.org, there were 371 registered participants for the 26.2 mile race. Despite being his first marathon — and being the youngest registered runner — Irvine placed third in the overall winners category. Irvine said his time of 2 hours and 53 minutes qualifies him for the Boston Marathon — the world's oldest annual marathon, began in 1897.
“I met the time requirements,” explained Irvine. “If you meet the age and time requirements from an approved marathon event, you just submit an application with all the information from the marathon you ran.”
Irvine said he just kind of fell into running. None of his family members are into distance running — he just realized that he liked doing it, and he was good at it.
“Really it was just something I started doing on my own,” remarked Irvine. “I realized that I really enjoyed it, thought it was fun, so I pursued it.”
Irvine is on the track team at Pocahontas County High School, and he spends a lot of time training on the Greenbrier River Trail. He ran a fifteen-miler — the Charleston Distance Run — during Labor Day weekend and placed first in his age group in the Possum Trot 5K at the Autumn Harvest Festival in September. Irvine said he also plans to run in the Turkey Trot at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory after Thanksgiving.
Long-distance runners Irvine's age are a rarity. At the marathon in Harpers Ferry — of the top five winners — the next closest age-wise to Irvine was 10 years older, and most of the registrants were at least twice his age.
“I guess I am what you consider a young runner, being only 17,” said Irvine.
Irvine has a regimented training schedule he likes to stick to when he's getting ready for a weekend event.
“I like to usually put long runs in on Mondays and Tuesdays, maybe do 15 miles,” said Irvine. “Then I'll back off Wednesdays and Thursdays, and do absolutely no running the day before.”
“The night before I try to just take it easy and relax, have a big dinner and rest up. A lot of times I get excited and it can be hard to sleep. Before big events I eat a lot carbs, a lot of pasta. I think it helps in the longer distance events, kind of gives you that energy that you need to cross the finish line,” he said.
With his first full-marathon under his belt, Irvine is learning little tricks fast.
“When I did the Charleston distance run, there were water stations at almost every corner, but I quickly found out you can't run and drink water at the same time,” laughed Irvine. “It's just not possible. So what you need to do is grab the water and just throw it in your face and keep moving. That's how I handle the water situation.”
Irvine said he listens to music to fire him up before an event.
“I always rock out to music when I'm warming up before a race. I crank it up before an event. I like a little bit of everything — workout music, pop music, some light rock,” he said.
When he is running, Irvine said what motivates him are the people in his life and God.
“Lots of inspirations,” he said. “I'm just extremely grateful and humbled that I get the opportunity and the ability to participate in these things. I have lots of supporters. My mom is one of my biggest supporters. She's an amazing mother and she's always very encouraging.”
Lisa Irvine, Clayton's mother, said he's an extraordinary kid and when he was little she'd always take him for walks outside.
“We live out in the country and there's not much traffic out on the roads, so it's just what he does in the evenings,” she said. “He doesn't drive, so I take him around to these events. He doesn't ask for much, so when he wants to do these races, we just load up and go. He's always really good about asking 'do you mind Mom?' He's a great kid; I'm very proud of him.”