When the runners in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (IMM) take their mark Nov. 1, a North Carolina teen will kick her stride into high gear with two goals in mind: to beat the course record by meeting the Olympic Trials ‘A’ Standard and to raise money and awareness for autism.
Charlotte, North Carolina resident Alana Hadley, 17, holds the record in the U.S. Half Marathon for the 14 – 15 year old age group. She set that record running her second half marathon. Now she’s moved on to longer races and bigger dreams. When she comes to Indianapolis, her plan is run the course in 2:37:00 or better. If Hadley hits that time, she will meet the Olympic Trials ‘A’ Standard and break the Monumental Marathon course record of 2:39:22 set by four-time Olympian Colleen De Reuck.
“I ran my first race when I was six and got into long distance running when I was nine,” said Hadley. “ Running has always been a part of my family. My parents are runners. That’s how they met in college and I got interested in running through them.”
Hadley says her 10-year-old sister, Rose, is a runner. Rose also has autism.
“My mom and dad or I run with my sister every morning,” said Hadley. “It helps her get ready for school because she has so much extra energy and running helps her get calm before school.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 68 children measure somewhere on the autism spectrum. According to data from 2012, 1 in 83 Hoosier children are autistic.
Hadley learned that she could use her run in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon to raise money and awareness for a cause. Autism was an easy choice because of her sister. If Hadley breaks the course record, she earns a $1000 bonus. She’ll get another $1000 if she meets the Olympic Trial ‘A’ Standard. Hadley has pledged 25% of her bonus winnings to the Autism Society of Indiana, which the IMM will match. She also did a crowdfunding t-shirt campaign through Ink the Cause.
Raising awareness for autism is something that Hadley sees as a part of her everyday life because of her sister. “Right now it’s more about getting it out there to people’s attention,” said Hadley. “Every year it seems they increase the number of how many people and how many kids are diagnosed.”
The odds of Hadley reaching her goals are in her favor. In her first IMM run, Hadley finished fourth with a time of 2:43:00, making her the youngest Olympic Trials qualifier in 30 years at the ‘B’ Standard. (The ‘B’ Standard earns entry to the trials while an ‘A’ Standard earns funding support.) Maybe, just maybe, Hadley’s luck in winning her second half marathon will transfer to her second IMM run.