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Three Local Runners Ready For Richmond Marathon

The word, “marathon,” may strike fear into the hearts of many athletes, but not South Boston residents Judy Green, Natalie Gurney and Nancy Smith, who plan to run the 32nd annual Richmond Marathon Saturday.

A number of races will be run Saturday, with the 8K race kicking off at 7 a.m., followed by the half marathon and Sun Trust Marathon at 8 a.m.

Green, Gurney and Smith have trained together for over two years, logging countless 5K’s, 10K’s, half marathons and full marathons between them.

You may have seen them training together on some of the roads in the South Boston area, and they run 3-5 times per week.

They call themselves the “run girls,” and acknowledge it takes accountability, discipline and focus to show up for early morning runs, especially to do the high mileage it takes to be sharp and ready for a marathon, which is 26.2 miles.

The run girls will have plenty of company tomorrow, judging by the number of participants in the kids fun run, 8K, half marathon and full marathon last year, which approached 15,000 participants.

Richmond, by all accounts, is their favorite marathon, with the Shamrock Virginia Beach run in March their favorite half marathon.

More than simply lacing up a pair of shoes, there is a lot of strategy involved in competitive running.

The team does speed work, which means running at a faster pace, as well as hill repeats, which is running to the top of a hill 5-8 times repeatedly in order to built strength and endurance.

For this they use the steep hill behind Halifax Regional Hospital, but the most important part of their training is the “long run.”

Their longest run has been 23 miles, a distance they ran two weeks ago, and that run took three and one-half hours.

That training regimen has made them faster, stronger and more disciplined, and the results are better race times.

Green, part owner of 3 Women No Truck, also finds time for super fitness with kickboxing and weight lifting, but is an experienced runner and will take on any challenge.

“We definitely see the countryside,” said Green describing the group’s training course.

“We’ve run from South Boston to Scottsburg, all over South Boston and Danville, and we’ve seen runaway cows, a hog hiding behind a tree and even a peacock, just to name a few.

Gurney, a sales director with Mary Kay, ran her first marathon eight years ago in Portland, Oregon, and has been doing them ever since.

“Training with my team is so much fun, it’s so good physically and mentally, and it’s such a stress reliever.” she noted. 

“We solve the world’s problems on these two-hour runs.”

Smith, a YMCA fitness instructor, began competitive running in 2005, and her first race was the Monument 10K.

“I got the running bug after completing that race and then started training for half and then full marathons,” Smith recalled.

“I’m so lucky to have two great running partners to get me through the training required for a marathon.

“I look forward to many more years of training with the run girls.”

All three cross train to be stronger for running.

“It’s so important to eat right, hydrate and take your vitamins, because you can’t do this on an empty tank,” said Gurney.

Green cautioned potential runners to take things one step at a time, saying the threesome take their running very seriously, but adding they weren’t 20-years-old anymore.

“You need to rest too, your body needs downtime to work more efficiently,” added Smith.