Competing and training all summer, Stephanie Garcia was exhausted. It was Aug. 21, and she had just completed two road races in Massachusetts. Her only thoughts concerned getting some food before a long drive home.
But then her phone rang, and Garcia’s fatigue quickly turned into excitement. Garcia was named to the United States team to participate in the IAFF World Championships in Daegu, Korea.
Garcia, a Broad Run High School graduate, was an All-American at the University of Virginia. She excels in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, an obstacle designed racecourse.
Garcia’s surprising phone call came just days before the World Championships started. Garcia was left with little notice because she was selected as a replacement. She finished fourth at the USATF Championship in June, but only the top three runners qualified.
Garcia was just seconds away from being in that top three, but fell in the final water pit, 200 meters from the finish line.
“When I fell it was a complete shock,” Garcia said. Finishing the race, she asked herself, “What just happened?”
Despite the immediate disappointment, Garcia was able to put the race into perspective.
“I was upset, but I didn’t have expectations of coming in the top three. It was a frustrating way to lose it, but that’s how the sport goes.”
After the fourth-place finish, Garcia looked toward running in as many events as possible. On July 30, she raced to a career-best 9:41.12 time to place second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in Ghent, Belgium. The 9:41.12 finish time placed Garcia under the Olympic A standard.
Belgium was not her only stop in Europe though, as Garcia also ran in Switzerland.
“This was my first summer doing the European tour. And it was awesome to get that opportunity to see and visit new places, and experience the different cultures,” Garcia said.
Delilah DiCrescenzo, the former Columbia runner who is well known for being referenced in the Plain White T’s song, “Hey There Delilah” is the athlete who pulled out of the IAFF Championships due to injury. Garcia was next in line to represent the United States. Of course, she jumped at the chance.
Garcia relished the opportunity to be surrounded by some of the best athletes in the world, calling it “a crazy honor.”
While in Korea, Garcia finished seventh in her heat with a 9:53.47 time. She spent 12 days in the Asian country for the championships.
Now that Garcia is done with an eventful summer on the track, she is back to work in the classroom. Residing in Charlottesville, she is in the process of getting her Masters Degree at Virginia.
There have been multiple shoe companies in sponsorship talks with Garcia, who will take a rest period from racing again. It will not be long before she is gearing up for another racing season though. “My goal is to make the 2012 Summer Olympics,” Garcia said.
“I definitely want this to be my main focus and priority. You don’t hit your peak until your late 20’s, so I am still pretty young. I’m still learning so it’s kind of like the freshman again.”
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