As the sun goes down on a mid-October day, Kristie Chung gets out of bed and readies herself for a run. Her runs at night in and around the Yukon area aren't without specific training and careful preparation.
For Chung, running at night hasn't been the norm in her life. It's not something she particularly enjoys, but the 34-year-old knows running at this time of night in Oklahoma will prepare her body to run at 6 a.m. in Ethiopia.
The Haile Gebrselassie Marathon in Hawassa, Ethiopia, takes place on Sunday (10 p.m. Saturday, local time). Its namesake, the 40-year-old Haile Gebrselassie, is regarded as one of the greatest distance runners of all-time.
What makes Chung's venture to Ethiopia so interesting is that it will be the first marathon Chung has run.
Chung's interest in running dates back to her high school days, just outside of Richmond, Va.
“I've always liked running, ever since I was young,” Chung said. “I've done some other destination races.”
When asked about this destination, Chung simply replied, “How could you not go there?”
Ethiopia is home to some of the best runners in the world, both currently and all-time.
“It's kind of like playing basketball in Michael Jordan's backyard,” Chung said.
Chung gave up running after high school. She joined the Air Force, and aside from the required physical training, she didn't see the opportunity to run the way she had enjoyed before. But a few years ago, in an attempt to make some lifestyle changes to better herself, running became her outlet.
“Running has kept my mind off a lot of things,” Chung said. “Running has kept my body moving. My mind focused on something.”
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