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Jessica Harthorn trains for the Zeigler Kalamazoo Half Marathon!

Week 1: It's time to stretch those hamstrings and dust off the running shoes! News Channel 3 Anchor Jessica Harthorn is once again training for the Zeigler Kalamazoo Half Marathon.

This year, Jessica is tackling the 20-week Distance Camp, which kicked off Dec. 9.

The 2024 Zeigler Kalamazoo Marathon, along with a half marathon, 10K, 5K run, 5K walk, and free PNC Kids' 1K, will take place from Saturday, May 4 to Sunday, May 5, 2024.

Last year, Jessica ran a total of 88 miles during run camp, leading up to race day.

Follow along on Jessica's journey:

Week 1: Dec. 9

It's happening! The anticipation of this season's Run Camp is both terrifying and exciting. Last season, I met some incredible people, learned a lot about pushing myself both physically and mentally, and embraced running at the crack of dawn in extreme temps, ice, snow, sleet and rain. Needless to say - I'm pumped to do it all over again!

Run Camp kicks off at 7:30 AM at the Portage YMCA. It's drizzling rain when I pull into the parking lot, and I'm met with Run Camp volunteers who pass out grocery bags. We take off our running shoes, so we don't get the court wet, and head to the check-in table to find out who are team captains are, put on a name tag and grab some free running swag from Gazelle Sports.

I recognize some old faces and introduce myself to new ones. A few minutes later, we all sit down to hear the spiel from Run Camp leaders, and to learn about expectations, running locations and resources available to runners leading up to the Zeigler Kalamazoo Marathon races.

Each group was created based on how long it takes participants to run a mile, and what race they are training for. I run a sub 9-minute mile, and am training for the half marathon, which is 13.1 miles. This will be the 8th half marathon I've participated in, and the second time I will run the Zeigler Kalamazoo Half Marathon.

After the presentation, we take a few minutes to put our running shoes back on, make a quick bathroom stop, and then meet our groups in the parking lot to do a little stretching. This morning, we run three miles through the Woodbridge Hills Neighborhood and back to the Y. By now the rain is starting to pick up, so we take off quick!

The route is mostly on a paved walkway that winds through the neighborhood past the golf course and circles back to the YMCA. Traffic is light, the temperature is a whopping 53 degrees and everyone is in high spirits as they finish the final few feet! I pull my phone out of my nifty fanny pack and take a short video.

I typically jog three miles 3-4 times a week, so I feel good when I make it back to the lobby in less than 25 minutes. There are granola bars and bananas waiting for us, and a high five from the volunteers. It feels great to be surrounded by motivated, encouraging people. We are spoiled by the unseasonably warm December weather - knowing very soon our running route will be covered in ice and snow. Bring it on - I'm ready!

(Note: Due to my family Christmas parties the next two Saturdays, I will have to miss Run Camp. Look for the next chapter the last weekend of December!)

Photo from Jessica Harthorn/WWMT.


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