Elite Runner Kathryn Gearhart Discovered In Isolation On Eastern Shore

Photos by Lisa McArthur

One of the more intriguing runners in the state of Maryland and more so do her isolated location from the rest of the top runners in the state is Easton senior Kathryn Gearhart. Despite only running in the fall during the cross country season, Gearhart has been an All-State cross country finisher in each of the past two seasons (didn't run as a freshmen) including a third place finish last year in the 2A race at Hereford.

Two weeks ago at the Bull Run Invitational, Gearhart made the trip across the Chesapeake Bay worth while in winning the elite race with the second fastest time of the day at 18:51 joining an elite list of past girls to break 19 minutes at Hereford. MileSplit Maryland interviewed the current MD #3 ranked runner before we make the trip ourselves across the Chesapeake Bay to see Gearhart race at the Tidewater Fall Classic on Wednesday in Salisbury, Maryland.

Interview with Kathryn Gearhart

How did you first get involved with running and why?

I started running when I was in middle school to get ready for lacrosse. I realized that I liked running and while most people dreaded the conditioning part of practice, I enjoyed it. I entered some 10k road races and either won the whole thing or won the women's division. After my first race I was was hooked!

What's life like growing up in Easton, Maryland and Talbot County?

Life in Talbot County is a lot of fun! There are a lot of outdoor activities and its great to be so close to the water.

What was your athletic background growing up? What other sports did you play?

Lacrosse was always my main sport but I also played field hockey and soccer. I played on a local team for lacrosse and then got on a travel Club team for a couple years.

When did you realize early on with your running that you could be very good at it?

Probably when I ran my first 10K race and I won, and then I felt good after it and kept running every day after school. Then I started keeping track of my times and I got faster and in better shape.

Recall your very first state cross country meet two years ago as a sophomore and finishing 7th. What did that race do for your confidence in your abilities?

I was really intimidated by the hills, the number of runners and the fans there cheering on the athletes. I was happy to get 7th but I knew that I wanted to be better and I could be better if I worked hard for my Junior and Senior years.

Coming from a small town on the Eastern Shore, what are some adversities and challenges that you have to deal with trying to reach your potential to be the best runner that you possibly can be?

The only challenge is the lack of hills. We have a lot of great and beautiful places to run here on the Shore and it all about pushing yourself to be better. If you are dedicated and hard working, you will find a way to succeed as a runner, no matter where you live.

Despite being been successful in cross country, you have never once ran track. Why is that? Would you consider running track in the future?

I've been playing lacrosse for a number of years and that is typically played in the spring, the same time as outdoor track. I enjoy lacrosse, but running is my sport. Many college coaches have asked about my track times, and I'm thinking of running track next spring.

Two weeks ago, you won the Bull Run Invitational elite race, one of the biggest races of the year in Maryland on the state meet course. You were able to decisively pull away from the field too. How did you feel about that race performance and does winning that race make you think more seriously about competing for that 2A state title this year?

I felt good during the race, and I was happy with the result. Also, I think that that was a good time on that challenging course. I am very focused on the state championship in November and think cit would be amazing to win the 2A state title.

Assume you have run in a more meets than are found online. How often do you race in your local weekday meets? Do you treat them as workouts or try to race them hard?

I run in all of our team's weekday meets which we usually run on Wednesdays. I usually race them but I set goals for myself for the times for my first and second miles and try to be as close to them as possible.

What is one of your favorite workouts or runs to do?

My favorite runs are long runs but I also like tempo runs.

What kind of training did you do over the summer to get ready for this cross country season?

I did a lot of speed work. Last year I had the endurance and did ok on the hills surprisingly, but my coach told me I needed more speed work so I could start off the season faster and be able to be competitive with all of the girls that ran track in the spring.

What's the closet thing to hill that you get a chance to run on near you?

The closest thing to a hill that I run on is an incline on a road near our school. My coach has measured out 300 meters on this incline and I run sprints up the hill. It doesn't feel like much of a hill when you run it but I think that it has helped me be better prepared for the few times when I do have to run on hilly courses like Hereford.

Who are your biggest role models and influences in running?

I really just started running for fun and then I found there were a lot of people who supported other runners and I liked that. So as I competed and started to win local races I had a number of people supported me but not one person who became a role model. My school coaches help me during the season and my year-round coach has helped me with my speed work and that is probably the biggest difference in being prepared for this season.

What would you considered as your greatest strength as a runner as well as an area that you feel you need to improve upon the most?

Probably my endurance. I am a distance runner and can do 10-12 miles with no problem. I guess the hills is where I could improve but that is because we don't have many here on the Shore.

Know that also you are a big lacrosse player. Which sport do you honestly enjoy the most and which sport do you feel you have the most potential in the future?

Running is my sport. I do like lacrosse and it is fun to play on a team sport, but this is what I excel at doing and what i gives me the most enjoyment.

Have you started looking at any colleges or making any visits? Any schools specifically?

I'm trying to focus on my training right now and getting ready for States. I have heard from a number of schools, and have visited a couple of them, but won't make any decisions until after States.

What are your goals for the remaining cross country season?

The biggest goal is obviously winning states but I have to take it one week at a time, working on my speed, endurance and interval times throughout each race. I have some time goals for the Tidewater Classic this week and the Bayside Championship on October 28th, and then of course I want to do well at Regionals and States.

Easton High School has not been known or had a lot of past success in the sport of running, so what would it mean to you as well as the school/community if you could become a state cross country champion come November at Hereford?

There are a lot of people in the community and my school that support me and I'm sure it would mean a lot to everyone. But I don't want to put too much pressure on myself to do it for the school or community, I just want to do my best on each race. If I am able to win, I think it would be something that nobody on the Eastern Shore has ever done, so that is a big deal. Whatever happens, I know I will push it and give it everything I have.