Some people talk about doing something big, others go out and do it. For at least one Pulaski County Public School teacher, it’s time to go out and take care of the task at hand.
Pulaski Elementary School second-grade teacher Kathryn Ratliff will miss school Friday as she travels to New York City to compete in the 52nd edition of the New York City Marathon. The event will feature more than 50,000 runners from 150 countries.
“I didn't really start running until college and I never thought I would run in a half marathon, let alone a marathon,” Ms. Ratliff said. “I decided to run the Hokie Half Marathon back in 2021 and then ran the Charlottesville Half Marathon in 2022. At the beginning of this year, I wanted to create a new goal for myself so I started looking into the New York City Marathon.”
Just showing up the day of the race and putting on your running shoes isn’t enough to qualify someone to run this race. It takes lots of training and each runner must fall into certain categories.
“I trained for four or five months, usually running five days a week,” she said. “I do my long runs on Saturday or Sunday, depending on my schedule. My long run so far has been 20 miles, so now theory is that the extra 6.2 miles won’t be that much worse.”
As for qualifying for the race, Ratliff took a bit of a different route than the professional runners.
“While I love running, I run at a moderate pace not fast enough to qualify based on time,” she explained. “The other option to participate in the NYC Marathon is to run on behalf of a charity. I chose to run for the Organization for Autism Research. I have an older brother who has Autism, so the cause is close to my heart. The organization does awesome things for children with Autism, but also provides resources to schools and communities that better their day-to-day lives and experiences. I am super excited to be running on behalf of such an amazing organization!”
In addition to preparing for the trip and race, Ms. Ratliff has also been involving her students in parts of the process.
“We’ve read a few stories recently about being a leader, setting goals, and doing things that are sometimes different from everyone else, and not doing what everyone around you always does,” she explained. “Sometimes you have to be willing to take a different path to inspire the people around you to reach their full potential.”
Thursday, the second-grade students and teachers at PES planned a sendoff to help motivate her heading into the race. A banner was created, with each student coloring a shoe and putting a message on them. Ms. Ratliff was then presented a Panther Paw Award, the highest award a PES student or staff member can receive, and a Cougar Pride Coin from the School Board Office.
“We wish her the best of luck and we’re extremely proud of her,” PES Principal Mike Price said. “Even though she’s new, she exhibits the qualities of a natural leader and is a wonderful teacher. If she applies the same qualities to this race that she does to the classroom, she’ll do just fine. I don’t know about that distance though. Running or walking over 26 miles at one time? I don’t think I do that in a whole week!”