The fairly improbable lines drawn by Ashley Gorr and Jodie Robertson to the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials haven’t intersected yet, but they’ll dovetail nicely in Houston in January.
Before that, they’ll both pass through Sunday’s 36th annual Gazette Stockade-athon 15k.
The 24-year-old Gorr, an Albany native who quit running early in her junior year at Albany High School, and the 27-year-old Robertson (nee Schoppmann), who has overcome a series of stress fractures since graduating from college, each qualified for the Trials with sub-2:46 marathons this year, and they’ll be the top two contenders in another interesting elite women’s field for the Stockade-athon.
Gorr is riding a rocket that took off a year ago, when she jumped into the New York City Marathon through the Boomer Esiason Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and debuted at that distance with a 3:00:01.
Not content to take her nice time and call it a career, she stepped up her training and posted a 2:45:31 at the ING Hartford Marathon four weeks ago.
“It’s amazing what’s happened to me in one year,” she said. “I wondered what I got myself into. It completely changed my life.”
Gorr ran for the Falcons as a freshman and sophomore, but as a junior, her motivation waned early, and it was only a matter of time before she was done.
With other pursuits pulling her in various directions, and a feeling of isolation creeping in, she dropped from the team two races into the cross country season.
“I had a little bit of a lack of focus,” she said. “I lost it. I had other things going on. I had a job, and none of my friends were on the team. I was always just completely on my own. The second race of the season, I just didn’t have it anymore.”
She left the team, but didn’t make a complete departure from running.
Gorr spent a year at the University of Buffalo, then transferred to UAlbany.
She competed in some prominent road races, like the Freihofer’s Run for Women and the Utica Boilermaker.
She moved around and went through cycles of serious and not-so-serious training, then decided last year to train for a marathon.
“As a runner, I knew I would be a marathoner,” Gorr said. “I thought, ‘Would you do this for a year?’ Why not.”
Like thousands of people around the country, she used a charitable pursuit to gain entry into the New York City Marathon, joining Team Boomer, which required that she raise $2,800 in donations for the foundation.
On the training side, she enlisted the help of designated Team Boomer coach Gerard Pearlberg for a marathon workout program.
“He said, ‘You’ve got a gift, you’ve got some talent. You owe it to yourself to explore this talent.’ ” Gorr said. “I had a great experience in New York, no major struggles. Then I decided that I didn’t want that to be the end of my career. I had a good opportunity to see what I could do.”
It was left to Pearlberg to determine what the next goal should be, and he suggested that qualifying for the Olympic Trials was within the scope of Gorr’s ability.
She ran two other marathons after New York, chopping a little bit of time off in each, then got under the 2:46 qualifying standard at Hartford.
“It [Trials] completely was not on my radar,” Gorr said. “It was a bit of a long shot in my eyes, but GP believed it, so I did, too.”
Robertson, a native of Levittown on Long Island, had her path to marathoning waylaid several times by stress fractures.
She suffered three stress fractures right after graduating from SUNY-Potsdam, then some friends back home convinced her to keep trying.
She and Aaron Robertson, one of the contenders in the Stockade-athon men’s field, were married in July and live in Voorheesville. They’re both music teachers.
Jodie Robertson competed in some half marathons and won the USA Track and Field 50k national championship in 3:20:12 at the Caumsett Run in March of last year. She was the third woman at the Stockade-athon in 54:59.6.
“It’s [marathon] something I always wanted to do when I was in college; it was something I had the potential to do,” she said. “The plan was to do a half this year, then Ottawa, and Aaron said, ‘I think you should just run the [Long Island] marathon, and if it doesn’t go well, then treat it as a long run and have Ottawa to fall back on.’ ”
She didn’t need Ottawa.
At the Long Island Marathon on May 1, Robertson was well on pace through a half in 1:20:30 and finished in 2:42:53.
Since then, she suffered another stress fracture, but she has 10 weeks of training under her belt since coming back and plans to train through the Stockade-athon up to the Trials.
“The goal is January,” she said. “So I’m not sure what I’ll do in the Stockade-athon. I’ve got a good six-week block of training, but I haven’t been racing, so we’ll see.”