McDonald wins 10K at the Penn Relays

By on May 2, 2012

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Dickinson College
In her first time racing the 10,000-meter run, 2005 Warwick grad Darcy McDonald crossed the finish line in 34:29 to capture top honors at the Penn Relays last Thursday in a race combining Olympic Development and college women runners.

Darcy McDonald isn’t exactly someone you would call a night owl.

By 10:15 p.m., she is usually falling asleep.

Last Thursday night was a different story.

As most people were settling in for the late-night news, the 2005 Warwick High School grad was stepping to the starting line at historic Franklin Field for the 10,000-meter run at the Penn Relays.

"I had coffee with my dinner and I was good to go," McDonald quipped.

Twenty-five laps later, McDonald had her arms raised in victory with her time of 34:29.45 in a race combining Olympic Development and college women runners.

"It’s definitely the biggest race I’ve ever won," she said.

That is saying something, considering the resume that McDonald has put together. At Dickinson College, she helped lead the Red Devils cross country team to the Division-III National Championships in her freshman and sophomore seasons. In her final year of eligibility while attending grad school at William and Mary in 2009-10, she was part of the Tribe squad which won its seventh Colonial Athletic Association championship. In June, 2011, McDonald took the women’s crown in the 35th annual Red Rose Run.

But nothing topped the experience of breaking the tape at the Penn Relays.

"It’s awesome," said McDonald, who also won Warwick’s first-ever State cross country medal in 2004. "It’s just such a great event. I was really looking forward to it and I thought I had a shot at winning the 10K and just thought that would be a really great accomplishment. So it was definitely satisfying to win it. They give you a gold watch (for winning), so it’s just different than winning another race like that."

This marked the fourth straight year that she has competed at the Penn Relays. In her three previous trips, McDonald ran either the 5K or 3K, and although this was her first experience in the 10K, she was confident going into it.

"I had no idea what the competition was going to be like," she said, "but the guy (William & Mary track boss Steve Walsh) who is coaching me was saying that I had a really good shot at winning it."

McDonald was in fact running with the lead pack through the first 5K, but then was slowed for a few laps as she battled a cramp in her side.

"It’s a long race. It’s 25 laps, so it’s kind of a blur," McDonald said.

Eventually, she climbed into second place behind only leader Erin Richard, of the Hansons-Brooks team. Then with one lap left, McDonald made her move, jumped into first place and held off Richard, who finished four seconds behind in 34:33.65 as the runner-up.

"My last lap was a lot faster than the other laps I was running, so it came down to a kick," McDonald said. "I was working from behind (Richard) for a couple miles leading up to that, so I kept trying to catch up with her and then when I finally did, I did feel confident once I passed her. I felt like I had the leg speed to hold her off."

Unfortunately, however, McDonald fell just 29 seconds short of reaching the B-standard qualifying time (34:00) for the upcoming Olympic Trials.

"I thought that I could potentially get the B-standard," she said, "but it was my first 10K, so I was just getting that under my belt. I’ve got a little ways to go to run that."

McDonald almost has her grad school degree under her belt as well. She is currently finishing up a program in school psychology with a full-time internship in Bel Air, Md., and she will graduate from William & Mary next month.

In the meantime, she will also continue to train and look to keep improving her times.

"I’ll probably run some more 10Ks, but I also like the shorter stuff," said McDonald, who worked a full day in Bel Air on Thursday before making the trip to Philadelphia. "I like the 5K and I really like the 1,500. My next race is actually a 1,500 in two weeks down at UVA. I’m still seeing where I’m maybe the strongest."

Although she got within striking distance of the B-standard qualifying time for the Olympic Trials, her primary motivation for running is going after personal goals.

"Obviously I still like to run," McDonald said. "After I was done with my eligibility in college, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do and it just ended up that I kept training at a high level and I’ve seen a lot of improvement. I don’t have specific long-term goals, but I see myself continuing to do it as long as I’m still improving and enjoying it."

Winning the 10,000-meter run at the Penn Relays in front of family and friends was one of those enjoyable moments that she will remember forever.

"Penn Relays on Thursday night is a lot different than Penn Relays on Saturday during the day," McDonald laughed. "There’s not a huge crowd, especially by the time the 10K rolls around. But I had a lot of people I know come out and support me and you still definitely get the atmosphere that you’re running at Penn Relays." More McDONALD, page B-4

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