By David Monti
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
(18-Mar) -- Sixteen year-old Alana Hadley, who is already the fastest American girl ever for the half-marathon as both a 14 and 15 year-old, has decided to move up to the marathon and will make her debut at the distance at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon on Sunday, May 19. The Charlotte, N.C., teenager made the announcement on her blog yesterday.
"Well I have some pretty exciting news to tell you," wrote Hadley. "I am going to make my marathon debut this year at the Cleveland Marathon on May 19th. I am super excited about this decision and can't wait for May to get here!"
Hadley, a sophomore at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte who does not compete for her school's track or cross country teams, has already run several successful half-marathons. In 2012, she completed three at the age of 15, clocking 1:16:41 (Myrtle Beach), 1:16:46 (New York City), and 1:16:59 (Duluth/USA Championships). The fastest of the three times was a USA single-age record. Averaging those three times and inserting them into one popular formula for predicting times at longer distances, Hadley should be capable of running about a 2:41 marathon, assuming she does adequate total mileage and sufficient long runs.
"I have always enjoyed the longer races and have built up my mileage for many years, to the point I now feel ready to start getting some marathon experience as it is my goal to one day make a career as a professional marathon runner," Hadley continued. "I am excited to run such a great race as the Cleveland Marathon and am looking forward to testing myself at this new distance and seeing what I can do. I have my family and friends' full support in this and I fully believe that I am making the right choice in following what I truly want to do in running."
Hadley, who is coached by her father Mark, has been competing at an elite level before she became a teenager. In 2009, as a 12 year-old, she was the overall winner of the Charlotte Turkey Trot 8-K in 29:37. As a 13 year-old, she ran 17:09.38 for 5000m, and a 37:27 road 10-K, and as a 14 year-old she recorded a half-marathon best of 1:17:01.
It is unlikely, however, that Hadley could break the ratified USA marathon record for a 16 year-old in her first attempt at the distance. That mark, 2:34:24 set by Cathy Schiro at the 1984 Olympic Trials in Olympia, Wash., is also the best ever by an American junior (19 or under) on a certified, record-quality course.
"I am SOOO excited about my marathon debut that I can hardly put it into words," Hadley concluded. "And the fact that the Cleveland Marathon is welcoming to me as I follow my goals and my dreams means a lot to me, and I would like to graciously thank them for being so supportive. I know that this is going to be a great experience for me in the start of my longer distance racing career. Thanks for the support and love everyone."
Updated on May 12, 2013, 6:41pm