by brianna blackman / photography by lauren maldonado
For some, 13.1 miles is about a 15-minute drive. To Cory Shaw, it’s an hour and 50 minute run, also known as AthHalf. Shaw, a senior advertising major from Roswell, ran his first half marathon last year during the annual race.
“It was one of the hardest things I had to do in my life,” Shaw says.
But despite it being the hardest thing he’s done, Shaw is training to run the race again this year. Being a new runner, he describes it as an experiment that he plans on continuing. Now that he knows the course of the race, Shaw is able to adjust his training schedule to better accommodate the grueling hills of Athens for race day on October 19 starting off with three miles and building up each week. He’s gotten familiar with the Athens area by changing up his course every time and running where the crowds are.
“I love running where the people are,” Shaw says. “Just seeing people inspire me to go faster.”
Shaw isn’t alone in his AthHalf journey. Christina Martin, a first-time runner from Peachtree City, has found another way to prepare for AthHalf. Martin, a graduate student at Georgia State University going for her masters of public health, uses a Pinterest page that she found known as couch potato to half marathon. Similar to Shaw’s method, it’s a guide that slowly moves runners up in mileage over ten weeks. Of course, there are some worries to running a half-marathon for the first time.
“I’m most worried about not finishing,” Martin says. “That’s definitely my biggest fear. In my head, I know I could do it, but there’s a time limit and that causes fear. I worry I’ll get to mile 10 and be like ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”
Martin’s worry of not finishing the race is a common fear. In Shaw’s point of view, running 13.1 miles can be taxing physically, mentally, and spiritually. Each runner has their own inspiration to reach the finish line. For Martin, it’s her sister.
“She did this race last year to raise money for our aunt’s father, who passed away from cancer,” Martin says. “I saw her do this beautiful thing, and I told myself one day I will run a half-marathon. Didn’t really think that would be this year.”
For Shaw, it was after a nation’s tragedy.
“I actually started running after the Boston Marathon,” Shaw says. “Being able to run for those that can’t run anymore because of the event is why I was inspired to do an AthHalf, or a half-marathon.”
According to the AthHalf website, the half-marathon starts on Clayton Streets, runs up and down the hills of Athens and ends at the Tate Student Center parking lot. As Martin stated, the race does have a time limit of four hours before the course and finish line is deconstructed. However, there are training groups put together by AthHalf that a person can work with in order to keep under that time. The money from the registration fees benefits AthFest Educates, a nonprofit organization that gives out grants to schools, nonprofits, and government agencies in the Athens area that provide educational programs in fine arts for people in kindergarten to fifth grade.