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High school track leads runner to marathons

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Clayton Irvine, a 2013 Pocahontas County High School graduate, first became interested in track his sophomore year. He had always been a health and fitness advocate, but his participation on the track team raised his motivation and determination.

Irvine joined the track team because he loved running and thought it would be great conditioning. He found his niche and went to the state track meet his sophomore, junior and senior years.

He then began running public races. On Sept. 1, 2012, Irvine ran the 15-mile Charleston Distance Run. He finished first in his age category and 15th in all categories.

When asked why he chose to continue the sport outside of school, he said, "Track only lasts for three months, so what are you going to do the rest of the year?"

He also said he wanted track to last longer than just the school sport because it is fun.

Irvine said he eventually would like to run the big marathons, such as the Chicago Marathon and the Boston Marathon. He qualified for this year's Boston Marathon but was not able to participate; he hopes to be able to run it next year.

His original inspiration for running was watching the Olympics, but he has come a long way from watching the athletes on television. Irvine now runs 90 straight minutes, five to six days a week.

To get to this point, he said he began running regularly in the mornings to condition himself. Then he began increasing his time and mileage until he was running two or three times per day. He is currently recovering from an injury, but after he is healed, he plans to return to running at this rate.

Irvine said many people have helped him with his journey. These include his mother, teachers and people in the community. He said his faith has also helped give him the strength to persevere.

He wants people to find inspiration and motivation through running just as he did. He said, "I would like to inspire other people to believe in themselves and be the best they can be."

To new runners, Irvine advised, "Keep with it, have fun and never give up. Just keep running. Just have fun with it and love what you do. Be grateful for the ability to run."


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