Honors College takes group to run in New Orleans

Running a half-marathon would appear daunting to some people. However, students in the Honors College at the University of Alabama say that with a group of encouraging friends it is not only an attainable goal, but also a great way to get in shape and have fun too.

The Honors College will be taking a group of students to run the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon this year on March 4.

“It is a great way to have community when you run,” Blair Baskin, this year’s group organizer, said.

Students can register for the half-marathon online at runrocknroll.competitor.com. The running group will travel together to the marathon and stay in a hotel in New Orleans. Dinner will be hosted by the Honors College the night before the race.

In the past, the group has gone to Nashville for the Country Music Marathon in April, but this year they decided to go to Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series in New Orleans in March.

Rachel Hunkler, the coordinator for the group the previous two years, said she thought the New Orleans race would be better for most people’s schedules since it falls before spring break. The Nashville race was always right before exams, making it difficult for some students to participate, she said.

“I had never run [a half-marathon] before, and I was definitely intimidated by it at first,” she said. “But it is a great group. They are motivated to go out and have a great time, and without them I would not have had the motivation to do it on my own.”

The group is not exclusively for Honors College students, Hunkler said. Anyone can join the group and run.

Students interested in training with the Honors College can search Honors College Half-Marathon on Facebook to join the group and get updates about upcoming runs and events.

The running group can also provide students opportunities to meet new people and develop new friendships.

“I have been able to get to know lots of very dedicated students balancing academics, extracurriculars and running,” Maddy Haddock said. “Coming from out of state, it introduced me to the Tuscaloosa running community. “

Haddock ran her first half marathon last year in April with the Honors College group in Nashville, only three days after the tornado hit Tuscaloosa. She said that training with the group was invaluable and helped hold her accountable.

“I always run a lot faster in a group and wouldn't dare skip a scheduled run, and when you get up to eight, nine and ten miles it really helps to challenge yourself within a group,” she said. “Plus, as much as I love running solo, it gets lonely after a while. I love ending the weekend with a Sunday afternoon group run.”

Group runs will be on Sundays at 4 p.m., and the group will meet at the lower Rec Center parking lot next to the pool. They will also have additional meetings to learn tips on running and how to eat well.

“Finishing is an accomplishment,” Baskin said. “It’s exciting and encouraging to have everyone come run with you.”

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