NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, October 29, 2015, 11:16 PM
Alana Hadley, the fastest American female in the elite field for Sunday’s New York City Marathon, packed library books, running gear and one nice outfit for her five days in town. She needed to sit on her suitcase to keep it closed for the first time, but finally made it to her room at the Hilton Wednesday evening. She met her roommate Clare Geraghty, a fellow elite from Australia, and woke up to a knock on the door Thursday. It was a drug tester looking for Geraghty. She adhered and then Hadley checked the list for her name. She provided a testing sample, as well.
“I was thinking those were usually for jacked guys!” Hadley said.
Hadley, an 18-year-old freshman at UNC-Charlotte, will be closely watched as she carries high expectations in tow. She ran her first 5K when she was 6 years old and turned professional a decade later. She holds the “B” standard for the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials meet in Los Angeles and is aiming for the “A” standard in the five-borough footrace this weekend. To do so, she will need to cross the finish in Central Park in under 2:37:00. Her personal best remains 2:38:34, but, even so, she cannot compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics because the IAAF ruled that next year’s Olympic marathoners must be at least 20 by December 31, 2016. She turns 20 eight days late.
For now, her focus is on New York.
“She’s so excited,” said Peter Ciaccia, the NYC Marathon race director. “This will be a thrill for her.”
She has proven to be a quick learner. In previous weeks, she studied elevation profiles at points along the route, comparing hills back home in Charlotte with the inclines of the Verrazano Bridge at the start and the Pulaski Bridge by the halfway marker. This will be her third race in New York, having already completed the half marathon (1:16:46 in 2012) and mini 10K (37:31 in 2010).
“Hopefully I’m ready for the bridges,” she said.
Hadley is taking 14 credits this semester. Her classes include sociology, chemistry, writing and visual arts. She has tailored her training to the campus, running a hilly loop to keep her primed. Because she is a professional, she cannot run for the school’s team.
She has donated a portion of her prize money to charities serving individuals on the autism spectrum, like her sister, Rose.
She was getting accustomed to New York traffic Thursday. There was a run in Central Park with her roommate and she chronicled her day on Instagram, posing for a photo where Geraghty and her flexed muscles. Hadley added two emojis: a biceps and a wink.