For Annie Walker ’17, being part of winter track gives her the opportunity to work alongside a variety of athletes while becoming closer with her running partners from cross country.
“Winter track is interesting coming off of cross country [where] we have such a close [environment] … It’s really cool to see how the sprinters, the throwers, the jumpers, and the distance kids all come together,” Walker said.Walker began running track in seventh grade. This is her fourth year running for PHS, with cross country in the fall and track in both the winter and the spring. In past winter track seasons, she ran the 800-meter, but will most likely switch to the 1600-meter this year. She is one of four female distance captains and she hopes to lead the relay team to states and nationals.
Her personal best times are 2:22 for the 800-meter and 19:10 for the 5K. Other than improving her time, her main goal is to remain healthy. Although she enjoys running very much, there have been many bumps in the road over the past as a result of injuries and health issues: she suffered from a calf injury, which kept her out of competition, and has anemia, which leads to shortness of breath and exhaustion.
“It’s been an uphill battle in terms of getting healthy and getting ready to race,” Walker said. “Cross country is a really intense season and recovering from any injury in that season can take a long time.”
Despite these issues, she has come out stronger and more motivated to succeed. After seven months of physical therapy, she was able to participate in last year’s spring track, this past cross country season, and now winter track. In addition to being thankful for her improved health conditions, she feels inspired by her teammates who also struggled with setbacks.
“Seeing other[s] … Work through injury and come back being able to fight past that … It just kind of makes you want to get back out there,” she said.
“She was really dedicated … going through the steps she needed to go to allow herself to be ready and train to compete at a high level this year,” said Head Coach James Smirk. “[It is] certainly a testament to her fortitude and her willingness to see the long term benefits of continuing to work hard.”
Walker is very appreciative of her whole team, especially of her running partners Chloe Taylor ’18, Annefleur Hartmanshenn ’17, and Izzy Trenholm ’17. Similarly, Walker’s teammates find her to be a great influence out on the track for the rest of the team.
“She’s influenced us the most by her commitment,” Trenholm said. “Even when she was injured and couldn’t race … she would still come and cheer us on. It makes you want to be more committed watching her.”
Although she plans on running in college, Walker will always cherish her experiences with her teammates at PHS.
“I fear the day this becomes a distant memory,” Walker said, reflecting upon her running career as a whole. “It’s been a lot of running, but it’s been very worth it; it’s been fun.”