HINSDALE — Competing in cross country for the first time, Hinsdale South junior Sydney Locke logically would struggle with endurance.
However, for Locke, running three miles is more like a warm-up.
She’s been taking in long distances for as long as she can remember and last year completed the Chicago Marathon in 5 hours, 3 minutes, 5 seconds, a little more than a month after turning 16, the minimum age to enter the race.
“It was an incredible experience,” Locke said. “It was really empowering and something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Locke’s inspiration to run a marathon started at home with her mother, Laurie Locke.
“My mom has completed multiple marathons,” Sydney said. “I would go out and watch her [train] and run the last couple miles with her. She’s really been a good role model for me and she’s been a strong leader in my life. She’s driven me to always run and stay healthy.”
Laurie Locke remembers her daughter’s first competition and how she took to it right away.
“She did her first fun run in Disney World and she really started taking a liking to it in fifth grade,” Laurie Locke said. “I could see that she was really good with it. And she’s had good coaches that have really helped her.”
Getting to train for the marathon and then run it with her daughter is something Laurie will never forget.
“It’s one of my proudest moments, running 26 miles with her beside me,” Laurie Locke said. “It’s the best marathon I’ve ever run. One of the best feelings was heading down the final stretch. She started crying with all the emotions she was feeling, knowing what she accomplished all on her own.”
Despite her love of running, Sydney Locke played volleyball her first two years at Hinsdale South. But she also ran track and her teammates finally convinced her to come out for the cross country team this year.
While she has the endurance, she has to learn how to run all over again and it’s a struggle between mind and body.
“It’s definitely a transition,” Sydney said. “My body wants to conserve energy but my mind is telling me I only have a mile or two left and you gotta go. I’m just trying to find my groove and I think I’m getting there.”
Locke’s first varsity race was Sept. 6 at the Hornet-Red Devil Invite. She finished 99th with a time of 20:53. Hinsdale South’s varsity team was without some of its top runners and Locke was the first Hornet across the line.
Her short-term goals are to keep knocking down her time while contributing to the team.
Hornets’ head coach Gail Huster likes what she sees and she knows Locke has tons of potential.
“I think this was a good start for her,” Huster said. “This is the hardest course she’ll run this year. She’ll be under 20 minutes by the end of the year.”