Stefanie Braun and her parents weren’t affected too severely by Hurricane Sandy, since their home in Dix Hills is not close to water on Long Island.
Indirectly, it did wipe out a trip north to Saratoga Springs as part of a prize package for having won the points race in the Summer Run Series, though, but Braun is headed this way, anyway, to run in the 37th annual Gazette Stockade-athon on Sunday.
A Division III cross country All-American who graduated from Plattsburgh State this spring, the 22-year-old Braun appears to be capable of a top-five finish against what is perhaps the best women’s field ever assembled at the Stockade-athon.
She’s the youngster among the elite group, and although she hasn’t run a marathon yet, eventually qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials may become a realistic goal in the coming years.
“We have conservative goals [for the Stockade-athon],” Braun said. “I’d like to be under 56, but basically I want to go out not too fast, at half-marathon pace, because most of my training has been for longer runs, then have some fun and see what the competition looks like.”
Well, it looks like this:
The defending champion, Jodie Robertson, will be back, but the one to catch is Maegan Krifchin of Ithaca, who was 13th at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Kavarna, Bulgaria, on Oct. 6.
Stockade-athon race director Vince Juliano believes that Krifchin is capable of taking a shot at Lori Hewig’s 19-year-old record for fastest women’s time in the race, 51:34.
That may be well out of Braun’s scope, but she has been adding to an already impressive college resume now that she’s graduated.
Braun finished 15th at the NCAA Division III cross country championships to gain All-America status, and was named the USTFCCA Cross Country regional athlete of the year and to the All-Region first team after winning the NCAA Atlantic Regional.
She’s a two-time indoor track SUNYAC champion in the 5,000 meters and has been to the outdoor nationals three times. Her indoor personal records are 17:23 for 5k and 35:49 for 10k.
“I didn’t do anything special in high school, but got better in college,” she said.
Braun’s coach at Plattsburgh was John Lynch, a Shenendehowa graduate who was hired as the cross country coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute last year.
On the suggestion of Robertson, whom Braun met at a race this summer, the Stockade-athon looked like a good pit stop on the way back from a stay at the Gideon Putnam that she earned in conjunction with her success in the Long Island Summer Run Series, so she entered.
Although the trip was postponed, Braun and her parents are still making the trip upstate.
“The storm was pretty bad, but I’m not near water, so the most
major stuff we got was a bunch of trees down, and the gas lines have been crazy,” Braun said. “Our
power was out for about a week, but we still don’t have cable or internet, so I’m pretty attached to my phone.
“But it’s not as crazy as New Jersey. Things are getting back to normal. I guess people were in a panic like it was the ’70s, but toward the middle of the week, the gas lines were starting to dwindle.”
Bruan easily swept all eight of the Long Island Summer Run Series races, which were held at a variety of state parks on Long Island, including a 17:49 in the Caumsett 5k.
Her busy race schedule also included a 1:21:44 at the Long Island Divas Half Marathon, which could be a building block to bigger things.
“I was pretty happy with that,” Braun said. “I definitely would say that the marathon could be my best, but I’m doing another half marathon in Florida in February, then Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in March in Washington, D.C., and that’ll be my first one. I’m not expecting much, I just want to finish. 2016 is a long ways away.”