Alyssa Shashaty was 10 years old when she ran her first 5K and 11 when she realized she wanted to run a 5K in all 50 states.
That journey, which took her six years to accomplish and saw her run a best of 19:27 in Hawaii, finished when she was 17 years old and was on the heels of her high school graduation at Peabody High in Massachusetts.
Now, just a year later, there's a new goal in mind, and this one will take her to the Boston Marathon on Monday, her first try at the 26.2 mile distance. Over the last five months, Shashaty, a former cross country runner for Peabody, has raised over $10,000 for the Military Friends Foundation, the organization which provided her entry into the famed race.
And she'll be among nearly 30,000 entrants who will take to the line in Hopkinton and hope to finish in the streets of Boston.
"I've been training since November, which is around the time I found I would be on the team," Shashaty said.
Currently a nursing student at Eastern Kentucky University, Shashaty is one of 77 teenagers entered, including 31 her own age. Nine athletes (below) are currently still in high school and ran cross country last year.
Shashaty might be the most traveled, having run 5Ks in Wyoming, North Dakota, Florida, Maine and Texas, among other states. She's raised over $25,000 in the last eight years and says she will continue to do so as a supporter of local causes.
"Ever since I was young, I have really liked helping people," she said. "It's something I like to do. I want to give back to people who can't give to themselves."
Boston, though, will be the toughest race she's ever done. She's never run 26.2 miles and hopes to finish in under five hours.
Normally one to wear headphones during long races, Shashaty says she might consider wearing an earbud in one ear and one without.
"A lot of people I know are going to be there and they're going to cheer me on," she said. "I want to be able to see and acknowledge them."
If there's one lesson her six-year experience of running 5Ks around the country taught her, it was this:
"There's so many good people in the world, so if you can't find one (to talk to) then just be one," she said.
Boston Marathon Entrants In High School And/Or Did Run HS XC
|1||Brittania Secondary School (ON)||2:59 (marathon)||Senior|
|2||Marblehead High (MA)||21:02.90||Senior|
|4||Milton (MA)||3:31.34 (1K)||Senior|
|5||St. Francis De Sales (OH)||17:18.00||Graduated|
|7||Ursuline Academy (OH)||25:13.10||Junior|
|8||Campbell High (NH)||19:59.00||Senior|
|9||Walled Lake Central (MI)||19:11.00||Senior|
|10||Emily Bardak||Wading River (NY)||Swimmer||Senior|
|12||Towson (MD)||12:28.30 (3200)||Senior|
|14||Georgetown Visitation Prep (DC)||19:18.80||Graduated|