Mom got her started

Badger freshman finds her niche in distance running

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Badger freshman Miranda Stanhope, left, is one of the top Division III distance runners in the area. Her mother, Christina, right, entered Miranda in a road race several years ago, getting her started. They are pictured at last week’s Northeastern Athletic Conference meet where Miranda won both the 1600 and 3200 runs, and also anchored Badger’s victorious 4x800 relay team.

ANDOVER — Christina Stanhope entered her daughter, Miranda, in a Kinsman-area 5K race when she was about 9 years old.

Christina told Miranda, who was active at the time playing soccer, that a combination of walking and running would be fine with her. She wanted her daughter to have a good time.

“Of course she ran the entire thing,” Christina said. “Didn’t stop once. Beat me. Came in first in her age group.”

Some things haven’t changed as Miranda is one of the top Division III runners in the area. She won the 1,600 and 3,200 runs at Wednesday’s Northeastern Athletic Conference meet.

Stanhope also anchored the Badger 4×800 relay to a victory. Christina kept looking at her watch to keep track of the four athletes going twice each around the track.

“My mom keeps splits so I know how fast my 800 was,” Miranda said. “I can use that for my next races.”

You see, Christina isn’t just another parent helping. She’s an active distance runner, something she started when she was 34, after her youngest child, Emily, now 11, was born. Her oldest is Rebekah, 17.

Christina, a 1994 graduate of Southwestern High School in West Ellicott, N.Y., didn’t run in high school. Something else spurned her interest in running. She said she struggled to lose weight after giving birth to each of her three children.

“I really need to do something that I like,” she said. “If you’re going to maintain weight loss, you have to do it because you like activities. I decided I’d start running.”

Christina is currently training for a marathon and said her training is a bit of trial and error. When something does work for an extended period of time, she’ll share it with Miranda.

The Badger freshman runner said her mother tells her not to try anything new for a big race, but to stick to her original strategy.

“I think it’s nice having a parent that’s also a runner because they understand my sport,” Miranda said. “They know what to tell me after each race. They’re not some other relative that doesn’t run that’s trying to give me advice.”

Badger coach Carrie Albert said it’s hard to understand if you’re not a runner, to know what it means if you miss a day of running or don’t get in your mileage.

Albert said that Christina would even run with Miranda in cold weather to help in her training.

“It’s great that they can share that interest. That’s something they can do together,” Albert said.

Rebekah even runs cross country for Badger, making this a family of distance runners.

For Miranda, the passion for running started in that first 5K and continued when her mother ran with her around town and in some local road races.

“The fact that she got Miranda interested at a young age is what I think is most important,” Albert said.