- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Megan Hepp captured her first-ever marathon win in the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte on Dec. 8, but it was her time that really gave her a thrill.
Hepp, a clinical dietitian at Springs Memorial Hospital, completed the 26.2-mile race in 2:45:10 hours, which earned her a chance to qualify for the women's marathon Olympic Trials this spring.
By finishing under 2:47 hours, Hepp is qualified to compete in the elite women's marathon in Boston.
"My goal was to break 3 hours and I had no idea about the Olympic Trials qualifier," she said. "Another runner told me I was on pace to qualify.
"I couldn't believe it, but I tried to keep my pace," Hepp said. "I was really excited."
Hepp, a Milton, Vt., native who ran cross country and track at the University of New Hampshire where she was the America East Conference champion in the 10K and steeple chase, said all the factors were in her favor the day of the marathon.
"I kept a steady pace," she said. "I didn't start too fast to begin the race and I didn't try to pick it up too quickly.
"I just tried to run even," said Hepp, who trained five weeks for the marathon and ran a string of 5K and 10K races throughout the summer.
"It was a perfect race. The weather was good and there were good spectators.
"A lot of people were out there cheering during the race which really helps you," she said Hepp, who runs with the Try sports Running Team out of Charlotte, where she lives, said a teammate ran the first half of the marathon with her.
"Having someone to help pace you is good," she said.
Her pace was 6:19 minutes per mile.
"It wasn't until 16 miles into the race that she realized her time could qualify her for the Olympic Trials race.
Hepp was the top female finisher and second overall in the Charlotte race.
Mike Aldrink of Columbus, Ohio, captured the Thunder Road Marathon in 2:39:58, besting his nearest competitor by just over seven minutes.
The race had 840 finishers, 582 men and 258 women.
Hepp dominated the women's field, finishing almost 29 minutes in front of Emily Dewald of Bloomington, Ill. (3:14:59).
"I really didn't expect this at all," said Hepp, whose only other marathon was in the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota in 2005. She was 50th overall with a time of 3:03 hours.
Now her Charlotte time has her in a special race this April, with the top three finishers moving on to the Olympics.
"It's really exciting," Hepp said. "I'm looking forward to it. I am very excited just to race with some of these athletes."
The event will be held on April 20 on a unique multi-loop course through downtown Boston and Cambridge, Mass.