Jeania Norton completes seventh marathon

By Bart Moss / For the FCT

In 490 B.C., according to legend, a Greek soldier named Pheidippides ran 25 miles from a battlefield near the city of Marathon to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians. Then, obviously because of a lack of rigorous training, he kneeled down and died.

This rather grim legend hasn’t stopped thousands of runners from all over the world from participating in grueling 26.2 mile races every year. One local woman, Jeania Norton, just completed her seventh marathon this weekend in Burlington, Vt.

Norton, an English teacher at Phil Campbell High School, has also completed more 25 half marathons. Why? She loves to compete.

“I love the adrenaline of competition,” said Norton. “It’s a challenge mentally and physically. I love the feeling of accomplishment and reaching a goal.

“Personal fitness has always been a goal of mine, and it just led to running,” Norton added. “God has really blessed me with good health so I’m able to do this, and I never forget that.”

Norton ran her first full marathon in 2010, the Huntsville Rocket City Marathon. Since then she has run almost one marathon per year, missing only 2013 and 2016: New York City Marathon in 2011, St. Jude’s Marathon in Memphis, Tenn., in 2012, West Palm Beach Marathon in 2014, Rock n Roll Marathon in Savannah, Ga., in 2015 and Music City Marathon in Nashville, Tenn., in 2017.

Norton said she views marathons a personal challenge and a different way to be a tourist.

“I don’t run marathons to compete against other runners,” she said. “I try to compete against myself and beat my best times. I also love to be outdoors and see new cities while running through them. I guess I’m a little crazy.”

Norton’s personal best time was in the 2012 St. Jude’s Marathon, where she ran the 26.2 miles in four hours and 19 minutes.

“The race itself is phenomenal,” explained Norton. “It’s a high that can’t be described. But the 18 weeks of training – not so much. Those long weekends get lonely.”

Despite all the training that goes into running a marathon, there has to be a point in every race where runners feel the pain that goes with any strenuous competition.

“No doubt mile 21-25 is the toughest part,” Norton said. “My training only takes me up to 20 miles on three different runs. Those last miles are pure determination. However, the last mile you start to hear the cheers and the music and people’s names being called out, and it gives you that last adrenaline rush to get you across the finish line.

“I literally held back tears of joy when I crossed the line this last time. It’s hard to explain. Yes, I worked hard preparing, but I just felt so blessed.”

Pheidippides would be proud.

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