"I'm more passionate about running because I wasn't required to run. Having the support of the Bucknell community even though I wasn't a Bucknell runner set me up for my opportunities now."

In a case of life perhaps imitating sport, Molly Pritz '10 (geology), the 2011 U.S. Track & Field 25k national champion who may be the youngest female marathoner at the 2012 Olympic trials, discovered her twin passions by taking a patient path much like what distance running itself requires.

Pritz was drawn to Bucknell on a day of happy alignment. She toured campus on a beautiful day with a great tour guide and enjoyed inspiring interactions with faculty members. "It all clicked," Pritz says. While she intended to pursue environmental engineering, a discovered desire for a community connection led her to her first passion: "Geology is the only thing I'm more passionate about than running," she says. "Bucknell has the best classes, the best professors — it's the best in the field." Her enthusiasm for her newfound knowledge bubbled out everywhere. On runs with her boyfriend, she says, "He came to know every geologic formation we ran by."

Pritz's path to her marathon debut, the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, 2011, involved the same passion, persistence and discipline that the marathon itself demanded of her. She put all of that to work to secure a 2:31 debut in NYC — making her the fastest American female to finish. She is now training for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

While she ran one semester of track her first year, Pritz felt that with a sole-sport focus she'd miss out on a lot at Bucknell. Instead she ran with an "impromptu team" of Bucknell friends and alums, allowing her to participate in a dance showcase, join the cycling team and enjoy geology fieldtrips and research projects.

After Bucknell, Pritz spent a year with the competitive Hanson-Brooks Distance Project, where promising young runners with Olympic dreams train full time.

Of her unconventional path to elite-level running, Pritz says that running for the sheer love of it in college relieved her of the pressure and burnout other runners hit at an early age. "I'm more passionate about running because I wasn't required to run," she explains. "Having the support of the Bucknell community even though I wasn't a Bucknell runner set me up for my opportunities now."

Posted October 13, 2011

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