Gotta Run: Brayden Self, Preston Whicker test themselves in a big way

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2023

This running story is one of the best, and I’m taking a break from the county seat visits to include it. Brayden Self, a regular runner through high school at East Rowan, texted me a little over five weeks ago that he and Preston Whicker were committed to running a marathon. That’s 26.2 miles, and they wanted to do it with just a month’s training. Brayden hadn’t run much since early in his freshman year when he did club cross country. Preston’s last running was as a high school senior year in track. At least two years of very little running for both of them.

Running a marathon is a huge challenge, even on the normal 12-16 week training cycle. The marathon is usually taken on by people who are already running regularly, but Self and Whicker had youth on their side. And the right kind of attitude.

With just a month of training time left, here is what Whicker did to get the challenge rolling. He said, “One day I was sitting around realizing my life was too comfortable. So, I decided to take on the challenge of running a marathon with 30 days of training and asked Brayden to do it with me.”

Self said, “I was working out one day and Preston randomly texted me, ‘Hey let’s run a marathon in a month.’ We both thought it would be a good challenge mentally and physically. It’s always good to challenge yourself and set difficult goals you will push yourself to attain. And if you do not reach your goals the first time, getting there afterwards shows your motivation to do so.”

Both guys set out to up their distance running but had to be careful to mix in recovery time too. Both also had knee issues and had to take a few extra days off. Overall, both ran 3-4 days a week and emphasized building up their long runs, topping out at 18 miles.

Their marathon of choice was the New River Marathon on Saturday, May 13, just down the road from Boone at Todd. The course had two challenging long hills but most of it was flat along the scenic river. The website lists 20.8 miles of the course as flat, most of it on Railroad Grade Road in the New River Valley and surrounded by Christmas tree and horse farms.

Self had to drop out with an injury just past 15 miles, but Whicker completed the course in 4 hours, 44 minutes and 30 seconds.

Whicker said, “I felt good, the course was beautiful, running 20 of the 26 miles along the river. There was a one mile-long hill around the 11-mile mark which wasn’t that difficult going up but was worse going down, for me. I will definitely run more marathons but the next race I will be training for will be a 50-mile ultra marathon. I am going to keep on running, stay focused on the ultra-marathon and not get distracted.”

It isn’t over for Self either. He added, “A marathon is very taxing on your body, and I am still recovering at the moment. My favorite memory from the course was the start, I’ve never seen that many people on a start line besides at a regional xc meet in high school. My plan now is to train for 3-4 months and run another marathon as soon as possible and hopefully break 4 hours and 30 minutes.” He did the marathon attempt with a herniated disk.

Self just completed his junior year and is majoring in exercise science. Whicker just completed his sophomore year and is majoring in banking and finance. Both are at Appalachian State University.

Racing locally has the Ed Dupree 5K on Saturday, May 20, and then the nighttime China Grove Challenge 5K on Friday, June 2.

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