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Monday, April 15, 2024

UC Davis student among youngest Boston Marathon participants

Christy Larson, a fourth-year exercise biology major from UC Davis, was one of the youngest participants in the Boston Marathon on March 21.

Larson qualified for the Boston Marathon at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco in 2012, with a time of three hours and 17 minutes, finishing in 10th place. This year, at the Boston Marathon, she brought her time down to three hours, nine minutes and 20 seconds. Larson claims that she’s never been a “technical” runner.

“I don’t time my mile splits, I just run,” Larson said. “At the Boston Marathon, I went out way too fast and at mile 13 I thought I was going to die. I just wanted to finish at that point.”

Larson didn’t spend the day before the marathon carbo loading and resting her feet. She spent the day touring the city with her family.

“The day before the Boston Marathon, my family and I walked probably eight miles around the city and found a hole-in-the-wall place to eat,” Larson said.

Larson qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2012, but was unable to run in 2013 because registration had already closed. The tragedies of the 2013 event made it even more important for her to run in the 2014 marathon.

She trained for the Boston Marathon without any coaching, running in between classes at UC Davis when she had time. Larson said that she runs between 60 and 70 miles a week.

Just weeks before the marathon, in early April, Larson’s grandfather died unexpectedly of pulmonary fibrosis, exacerbated by pneumonia. Larson was very close to him, according to her father, Nils Larson.

“At first she called me and said that she didn’t want to run after that,” Nils said. “But I told her to think about Grandpa and what he would want her to do. I think she turned that into inner strength and it made her push harder.”

James Sena, Larson’s high school cross country and track coach, said that he was a little surprised when he heard that Larson was going to run the Boston Marathon, but that she’d always been a strong long distance runner.

“She always took her athletics very seriously,” Sena said. “She’s very outgoing and friendly, but as soon as she put her soccer shoes on she was very competitive.”

A lot of high school athletes go all out and are pretty burnt out by the time that they get to college, Sena said. What set Larson apart was that she had so much stamina and ability to “make it happen.”

“She was different than the big group of kids in high school as far as work ethic, attention to detail and competitiveness,” Sena said. “She was going to challenge you. She’s not a quitter, and she just gutted it out.”

Larson realized that she was fast in the third grade when her teacher made the students run laps. She continued to run during middle and high school, and ran 500 miles the summer after her junior year.

Larson’s parents were amazed by her success at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. They thought that her running was purely recreational, and her father mentioned that no one else in the family is a runner.

Larson said that running marathons gives her confidence in human nature.

“If you get the chance to run a marathon, do it,” Larson said. “Everyone is chasing the same goal, and crossing that finish line is such a rewarding experience.”

TAYLOR CUNNINGHAM can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

Courtesy photo.

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