CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Beth Wheatley works hard and runs hard. She took both of her passions to New York as part of a Nature Conservancy team that competed in Sunday's New York City Marathon.
Wheatley is director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia. She hopes to raise $15,000 through her participation in the 26.2-mile race. The national organization's goal is $200,000. The money Wheatley raises will go directly to projects in the Mountain State.
"The NYC Marathon draws over 45,000 runners from around the world and several million spectators," Wheatley said. "The Nature Conservancy's marathon team and I want to build on the excitement of the race to inspire people to get involved in The Nature Conservancy's work to conserve important lands and waters in West Virginia, the Central Appalachian Mountains, the United States and beyond."
The avid Charleston runner joined the charity's team late in the game. She didn't know she would be running in the marathon until mid-September, but she said the eight weeks of intense training were worth the chance to raise money for the conservation group.
She worked hard to catch up, with a training routine that includes yoga for flexibility, some bicycling, and long runs through the hills surrounding Charleston and along the Kanawha River.
"I've never done a marathon -- this is my first, and I honestly never expected to do a marathon, but I couldn't pass this up," Wheatley said the week before the run. "I get to weave together two of my great loves. The Nature Conservancy team has six members from various areas of the country, including the president and CEO, Mark Tercek."
While most runners must qualify to run in the Big Apple race, there are exemptions for those raising money for charity.
Wheatley, 39, is an experienced distance runner. She ran track and cross country at George Washington High School and regularly runs distance races in and around West Virginia. Most recently, she has participated in the Great Greenbrier River Race (a triathlon), the Gristmill Grinder half marathon at Babcock State Park and a half marathon in Huntington.