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George Rickett Wins Night Marathon

George Rickett Wins Night Marathon

George Rickett accomplished a great deal during his 4.5-year tenure as a cross country and track & field student-athlete at Wilmington College. In track & field, he set the program record in the steeplechase with a time of 9:26.92 on May 5, 2022 and finished sixth place in the event at the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Outdoor Championships in 2022.

Rickett returned to WC for a victory-lap semester of his fifth year for the cross country season, his fourth wearing the Green & White (the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the entire 2020 season). In doing so, Rickett was a part of the Quakers' best season in program history. Not only did WC win the JennaStrong Fall Classic, it finished third at the OAC Championships, the program's highest finish over two decades in the league. Rickett garnered All-OAC honors and was 1-of-3 individuals to qualify for the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships.

The one thing he hadn't done – run a marathon. Rickett, in fact, hadn't ever run more than 18 miles in his life.

"I wanted a different challenge than I had in my four-and-a-half years as a student-athlete at Wilmington College," said Rickett. "I had never eaten food during a run before, which is very important on longer runs."

Rickett had some help in deciding to run the marathon, and that came from two sources. The first – a former teammate at WC in Cameron Phelps, who ran the marathon with George. The second – someone who had been a mentor to Rickett since he stepped foot on campus.

"Tony Goodrich, a 2015 WC graduate and assistant coach, suggested the race to me," Rickett recalled. "He's been a coach, a friend, a mentor and a believer in me since the beginning."

The marathon was held in and around Caesar Creek Trails, a place Rickett knew well as he trained there often during his WC career. This race, however, would add an element George had not experienced – the race started at dusk and ended at night. Additionally, the course was not the same loop around the perimeter that George knew well.

"I wasn't as familiar with the course, mainly because of a broken bridge," said Rickett. "The possibility of people falling into the creek on that crossing was too risky. Despite me running a different route that I was used to, I didn't struggle. Both the signage and the volunteers working the course were fantastic."

As the race began, Rickett came out too quickly, but kept the leader in view as the sun set. At the seven-mile mark, he stopped for a couple of cookies to refuel and caught up to the leader a mile later.

"Once I caught up to the leader, I just ran right behind him until mile No. 15," Rickett said. "I remember getting our splits at the 16.8-mile mark and realizing I was ahead by about a minute."

Then came "the wall". After filling his body with elecrolytes, Rickett hit the hilly part of the course around the 21st mile. He logged three consecutive miles of 11, 12 and 13 minutes respectively. Because it was dark and there were a lot of runners on the course, Rickett lost track of what place he was in the race."

"I thought I was still in the lead until around mile No. 25 when I passed some who started with me," Rickett recalled. "I found some hidden energy and finished my last two miles in 10:03 and 8:49 respectively to win the race by two minutes."

Upon finishing, Rickett got pictures with teammates Josh Cyrus, Ryan Honkomp and Taton Bertsch as well as Assistant Swimming Coach Paula Stewart and her husband. After about 10 minutes, however, the sweat on Rickett's body began to freeze as a nightfall had set in.

"My feet were sore initially, but what took longer to recover was my quads," said Rickett. "Walking downstairs, or up, wasn't particularly fun for a while."

George Rickett, an All-Conference and All-Region cross country runner, a 2022 December graduate of Wilmington College, and now, a marathon winner.