On a chilly Tuesday evening in an East Orlando parking lot, Christine Wright struggles to flip over a slippery 200 pound-plus tractor tire. Getting a grip under the dew-covered tire and using her legs for lift, Wright is able to raise the bulky object to a vertical position, then gives it a final push so gravity can do the rest. Before the hour-long boot camp is over she will run a series of rapid-fire sprints and agility drills, do pushups with a weight on her back, one-arm lift a sand bell over her head again and again, awkwardly scramble on hands and feet in damp dirt, wrestle with that dang tire several more times, sweat bullets and burn off 660 calories.
This has been her Monday through Thursday routine for nearly two years.
Wright, a senior chemist/quality assurance officer in OUC’s Gardenia Water Quality Laboratory, is training for her fifth entry in the OUC Orlando Half Marathon & Track Shack Lake Eola 5k on Dec. 7. She attributes her intense exercise regimen, which includes runs of 3 to 10 miles on Saturdays, to her showing in last year’s 13.1 mile run, a time of 2:29 – 11 minutes better than her 2017 finish. Before she began working out at Camp Gladiator four nights a week, she had trimmed only a minute off her previous years’ time.
“My goal time is two hours and 20 minutes this year,” says Wright. “After consistently attending Camp Gladiator since last year, I think that will be achievable.”
As for running in a 26-mile marathon, Wright is quick to draw the line at the halfway mark.
Entered in the women’s 30-34 age group, Wright will be among an estimated 4,500 runners and walkers traversing the streets of downtown Orlando, starting and ending on the north side of Lake Eola. Last year she finished 127th out of 213 runners in her group.
In its 43rd year, the half marathon-5k run is billed as Florida’s only sustainable foot race. In 2018, it received Gold Level Certification by the Council for Responsible Sport for “implementing 45 of the best practice standards offered in the Council’s certification program for social and environmental responsibility at sporting events.”
Led by an OUC electric vehicle, the race serves participants clean H2OUC from hydrants, reducing the need for 2,700 plastic gallon jugs and 6,000 single-use plastic bottles. Beginning this year, no single-use plastic bottles will be offered. And by using online registration and e-race packets with final race information, 80,000 pieces of paper were eliminated.
Since 2012, when Track Shack took ownership of it, the race has contributed nearly $250,000 to Track Shack Youth Foundation, Orlando Runners Club and Florida Citrus Sports MVP program.
Wright, who runs 5k and 10k’s in Track Shack’s Running Series, says she doesn’t “particularly like” running a half marathon. “I run for the challenge,” she says. “I want to keep a steady pace and not ever walk.”
While in a race, she prefers to run in silence rather than listen to music with earphones. “I use the time to reflect and not even think about running,” she says.
If her training pays off, she won’t have to think about running for two hours and 20 minutes on Dec. 7.