Chloe Hanson, the sole runner from Saugerties High School at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association cross-country championships this year, placed 40th in a field of 113 in this past Saturday’s Class B race. Hanson said she was hoping to a better result.
“To be truthful, I intended to place top 20, but missed my goal by a lot of girls,” said Hanson. “During my race I felt unwell, so I never felt a strong level of confidence to tackle my competition. I was able to pass ten girls in the last stretch of the race, but my final spot was not what I wanted. Although States did not go as planned, I am still happy with my performance.”
Hanson, a senior, moved to Saugerties when she was a baby, going to Cahill Elementary, where her father Bill is a sixth grade teacher. With her father’s support, Hanson ran the Cahill Classic 5K as a sixth grader.
“I ran a 24-minute 5K without any experience or training, so my family and I realized that running was something to pursue,” she remembered. “I began running varsity track in seventh grade and varsity cross-country in eighth grade. I’ve been running competitively on the varsity level ever since then.”
Six years since she first began running, Hanson said she was still hooked. “For me, distance running is my freedom,” she said. “As a Type One diabetic, running helps me manage my diabetes and maintain my health. Running is also a sport you can do anywhere, so I have always loved I can step out in a pair of sneakers and escape from the world for a little while.”
She loves the team environment. “There is nothing better than a supportive team that pushes each other to grow and compete at our best,” she said. “My team is like that.”
Hanson plans on studying biology and health sciences in college. She hopes to become a physician’s assistant. She plans on continuing running wherever she goes to college.
“I definitely will be running competitively after high school,” she said. “I have a few schools in mind, but I am unsure where I will be running yet. Whatever college I end up running for, my goal is to become the best runner I can be.”
Hanson is on the Saugerties track-and-field team as well. Distance running is her sole athletic interest. At the state championships at Sunken Meadow Park on Saturday, Hanson picked up steam near the end of the three-mile course, finishing in a crowd in 20:29.7, a little over two minutes off the winner’s pace. The runners who place between 24 and 60 all finished within a minute of one another.
With the Nike Cross Regionals and New York Regional Championships scheduled for November 24 at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, Hanson’s season isn’t over. And it’s fair to say it’s all gone a lot better than it might have.
“I had come back from a hip fracture not long ago and had spent the summer doing a lot of intensive training to prepare myself for my final season of cross-country,” Hanson said. “I ended up getting two personal records this season, placed second in the league, got fifth [place] in Section IX Class B, and made it to States. I can also proudly say our girls’ team got second in the league, which was a historic moment for Saugerties cross-country that we worked very hard for all season.”
Hanson’s trip to the state tournament was her first. “For me, making it to States was a huge goal,” she said. “I had wanted to go since eighth grade, missing my opportunity to go during my eleventh grade year due to my hip fracture. I felt as though finally making it to States proved all my hard work and dedication in my sport had paid off. Despite my diabetes and my hip fracture, I managed to reach a goal that sometimes felt impossible.”
In 1959, English writer Alan Sillitoe published a short story called “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner,” which a few years later was turned into a popular film. The field was crowded for her race at the state tournament. The acute feeling of being on her own was fairly apparent at Sunken Meadow.
“All my teammates and coaches told me to just enjoy the race, but I found it difficult to ignore the intense competitiveness at States,” Hanson said. “I definitely missed having my teammates by my side on the starting line, especially since we have been competing the entire season together.”
It was her first time running at States, and Hanson felt intimidated. She was not used to running in a race with so many fast, highly competitive runners. The course, one of the hardest in the nation, was a challenge of its own. “The runners were also very aggressive,” she said, ”but I am used to aggressive racing because of track.”
Hanson found that she belonged at the state tournament.
“Overall, I was thrilled to compete in a race at States,” she said. “Every girl there was very talented and fast, so to run amongst the best was an awesome experience.”