For most college students, a 21st birthday means a night of partying, but for University of Richmond senior Meg McCall, who turned 21 on Monday, the celebration will be a little different.
This Saturday, McCall and senior Drew Goldfarb will race in the SunTrust Richmond Marathon, a 26.2-mile race that starts on Broad Street near 7th St. and loops through downtown Richmond and the West End, finishing on Cary Street east of 9th Street. Other students, including seniors Sarah Woodis and Andy Vassallo, will race in the 13.1-mile half-marathon.
"I wanted to challenge myself," Woodis said, "but maybe not enough to run the whole marathon."
McCall said running the marathon had been both her New Year's resolution and a promise she had made to herself on her 20th birthday last year.
"I kind of had a major freak out, like, 'I can't believe I'm in my 20s,'" she said. "I know I'm not old, but I feel like I'm getting there. I just kind of thought, 'Why not now?'"
Goldfarb, a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, is running the marathon to raise money for the group's philanthropy, the Special Olympics of Virginia, he said. So far, he has raised more than $1,530, and he has set up a Web site, www.firstgiving.com/goldfarbdrew, to collect more donations.
Both McCall and Goldfarb, who are not training for the marathon together, said they had been training since July. Their training schedules vary, but each aims to run four or five days each week. On the other days, they rest or do cross training. One day each week each runner does a long run - Goldfarb said his longest run so far had been 20 miles and McCall said she had run 21 miles.
"They say if you can run 20 or 21 miles you'll be able to do the marathon," McCall said. "I'm hoping to just pull those last five miles out of nowhere. ... At that point, it's all mental."
McCall said training for the marathon had been difficult to fit into her schedule. She tries to do her long runs on weekends, and squeezes in weekday workouts between classes and meetings, she said.
"I think people forget what I look like outside my running clothes, because I wear them all the time," she said. "I'm so excited to wear normal clothes again."
Though her wardrobe may have suffered, McCall said she had enjoyed training for the marathon and that there had been other perks.
"The best part of running the marathon is how much food I get to eat," she said. "My dad always asks me if I've had my dinners today, because I usually have more than one."
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Despite all the time she spends training, McCall, who played field hockey in high school, said she was still adjusting to being labeled as a runner.
"I still don't consider myself a runner," she said. "My friends say: 'Meg, you're running a marathon. You're a runner.'"
Goldfarb, who said he hoped to someday run the Boston marathon in his hometown, was a runner in high school. Woodis also said she had run in high school and had run road races, including the Monument 10K in Richmond, before. Vassallo, who is training for the race with Woodis, has always been an athlete, but said this would be his first running race. He is running in honor of a family friend who suffered a traumatic brain injury, he said.
"I'm not raising money or anything," he said, "but I thought it would be a cool thing to do for him."
All four students said they were excited for the race and the challenges it would present.
"I want to beat Oprah," McCall said of her goal for the marathon.
Television host Oprah Winfrey ran the U.S. Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C. in four hours, 29 minutes and 20 seconds in 2006. Goldfarb said his main goal was just to finish the marathon, but that he'd like to finish in less than four hours.
Goldfarb said his fraternity brothers would cheer him on during the race, and Vasallo said one of his friends would come from West Point to run the full marathon. McCall's family will drive to Richmond from Maryland and tailgate at one of three viewing points set up by the race organizers.
The sponsored tailgates and viewing points, along with the corporate sponsors and huge crowd support, have helped to give the Richmond marathon the title of "friendliest marathon in America," but Vasallo said he was most excited for a post-race event.
"They sponsor a post-race party," he said. "It's $2 keg beers."
McCall said she had no idea what to expect after the marathon.
"I have no idea how I'll feel," she said.
McCall is especially worried about how she'll feel after finishing the race because she is planning to attend a social for her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, that night.
"I'm the social chair, so I have to be there," she said. "But I booked a handicap-accessible venue just in case."
Contact staff writer Emily Baltz at email@example.com
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