Long-distance running is more than just a college sport for alumnus Austin Lavin. He achieved great success on the Newman cross-country team and graduated in 2018 with a degree in applied mathematics.
One year later, he was preparing to participate in one of the largest marathons in the world.
Lavin first ran the Phoenix-Mesa Marathon in February 2019 to qualify for one of the six major marathons: the New York City (NYC) Marathon.
His ultimate goal is to compete in all six major marathons in the world; NYC, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, London and Tokyo.
“What better way to start them off than the biggest one first,” he said. “It has always been on my bucket list to go to NYC and to run there in all five burrows.”
He traveled to NYC in November 2019 and finished the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 33 minutes and 8 seconds. His pace was 5:50 a mile.
Out of 53,518 runners, Lavin placed 93rd overall.
He was the 37th American to cross the finish line and placed 7th out of 798 runners in his 20-24 age group.
Lavin had been continuously training since March for this race but began running longer distances, up to 22 miles, in August. He ran an average of 70-80 miles per week throughout 2019.
Balancing his training and a full-time job was no easy task. Lavin currently works as a claims specialist in Phoenix with a goal of becoming an actuary.
“I would get up at 3 a.m. every morning during the week to get my run done. Normally, I would run anywhere from eight to 12 miles every morning during the week.
“The main workouts and long runs would be on the weekends when I could get a little more sleep and have friends join me. The long runs would be anywhere from 16-22 miles on a single run.”
After months of preparation and miles of running, it was time for the trip.
This was Lavin’s first time in NYC and he said other than skyscrapers and lots of people, he wasn’t sure what to expect. Living in Phoenix, he is no stranger to big cities but he did enjoy that there was always something to do in the city.
He visited Central Park, Madison Square Garden and Times Square all on the first day.
Race day came on Nov. 3 and was an early start for Lavin. The race began at 9:30 a.m. but Lavin was up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the ferry to Staten Island. The course begins in Staten Island and proceeds into Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. Runners cross the finish line in Manhattan’s Central Park.
Lavin met up with his high school track and field coach at the start line where they stayed bundled up in the 40-degree weather waiting for the race to begin. After a 3-hour wait, they took their places at the start line and got ready to run one of the toughest marathons in the world.
Lavin said the beginning of the race was rocky. Trying to break through the herd of runners to really start pacing himself took some time.
“Once I got through that, it was smooth sailing for the rest of the race,” he said.
“Brooklyn was by far the best burrow to run in because of how loud the crowds were and it just gave me so much energy to push forward from miles two to 14. After those miles, we entered Manhattan’s First Avenue where the race got to me. The crowds were also amazing and very loud here which gave me a ton of energy and caused me to run my fastest mile of the day, mile 17, at 5:15, which I soon regretted at about mile 22 when my energy level went down dramatically and I started to hit the wall.”
Lavin added, “From mile 23 to the finish was a struggle and I was just hoping to get to the finish. As soon as I turned into Central Park for the last time, I knew that I was going to complete one of the hardest marathons in the world,” he said.
“It felt amazing to cross that finish knowing that I gave it everything that I had for that day.”
Lavin’s goal was to break 2:30; he finished at 2:33:08.
“Ultimately, I ran a very solid time given how difficult the course was and how hilly the last 10k of the race was through Manhattan and Central Park,” he said.
The race itself, he explained, was an amazing experience. He was grateful for the opportunity and proud to walk away knowing he placed in the top 1% of all the runners.
One of the best parts for Lavin was the support of the crowds and the runners throughout the day. “Everyone was encouraging,” he said.
The NYC Marathon was only the beginning for Lavin. He has already signed up for the Boston Marathon, which takes place April 20, 2020.
This comes as no surprise for his Newman cross-country coach, Josh Schepis, who said, “I don’t remember a day he showed up that I needed to motivate him, he was very self-motived. I knew that he would do some great things after he left Newman.”
Lavin was honored with a champion award his first year on Newman’s team. The award goes to a runner who is an example on and off the course and overall has the heart of a champion, something Schepis said he most definitely deserved.
Shepis added, “He was always the person that put the team ahead of himself.”
Lavin’s advice for anyone with a big goal is, “If there is something that you want to do in life, there is no reason not to make it happen. If you want it bad enough, you can make time to get that goal accomplished.”