KEYSER - In 1980 as a freshman at Fort Hill High School, Natalie Zimmerman began a lifetime of running with the dream of one day running in the world famous Boston Marathon. After competing in 24 marathons Natalie will have the chance to pound the pavement in the streets of Boston while experiencing Patriots' Day, which is always celebrated on the third Monday of April.

So how did Natalie find out she would be participating in the 2018 Boston Marathon?  
Keyser Principal Mike Lewis brought everyone into the gymnasium and made the surprise announcement in front of the entire school which was just shocking to Mrs. Zimmerman. When asked how she felt upon receiving the news Natalie said with a smile, “It was extremely exciting.” For those unfamiliar with the activities in greater New England surrounding Patriots Day, one tradition is the Baltimore Orioles typically visit Fenway Park and this year Natalie will be one of the lucky fans in the stands before competing on race day which is Monday. Natalie talked about some of the activities she will be involved with in Boston this weekend, “On Sunday we get to have breakfast with the Race Director which to me is just phenomenal. We do have some time on our own, which we can go to the Expo and do some Boston type things.”
A sourdough bread bowl of clam chowder from Quincy Market might be in the near future for Mrs. Zimmerman.  
Obviously its not easy to run a marathon so how did Natalie train to get prepared to compete at the highest level? “I ran six days a week. On easy days I would run 6-8 miles, then 1 speed workout, then 1 tempo run where I run 8-10 miles at the marathon pace. On long runs I would run up to 17 miles. Also I go to the YMCA 3-4 days a week to do body pump which is weight lifting, strength training, yoga, stretching, mixed in with some swimming and cycling.  I do a lot of cross training to prevent injuries.” The amount of training, dedication, and commitment to achieve a lifelong dream is remarkable but just getting to Boston wasn’t good enough for Natalie, as she has her eyes set on a specific goal.
“What I would like to do is run under four hours so that I qualify to go back next year. Four hours is the ultimate goal, but as long as I finish I will be a happy camper.” Certainly everyone in Mineral County will be cheering hard for Natalie to break that 4 hour barrier. Natalie, a Math and Computer Science teacher at Keyser High School, is part of a team of educators hand-selected from more than 1,600 applications received from runners across the country.
Natalie Zimmerman is not only a classroom innovator, but an avid distance runner, passionate adventurer and breast cancer survivor. Natalie was in the prime of her running career when she received the diagnosis that turned her world upside down. To stay hopeful and positive through months of treatment, she made a list of all the places she planned to travel when she was well and has since visited 49 states and 10 Canadian provinces. Natalie has also completed an astounding 500 races throughout her running career and will soon add “Boston Marathoner” to the already impressive list of accomplishments that inspire her community and students each day. “I feel as lucky as Cinderella going to the ball to be a part of Hyland’s teacher team,” says Zimmerman. Hyland’s, the Official Cramp Relief Sponsor of the Boston Marathon, will bring a team of 13 classroom all-stars to one of the world’s most coveted starting lines, the 122nd Boston Marathon.
Leading up to the 2018 Boston Marathon, the Boston Athletic Association is celebrating a Year of Service, honoring those who give back to their country, mission and community. Hyland’s is proud to have built a team of runners that exemplify that very spirit of giving back to their communities. The 122nd running of the Boston Marathon will take place on April 16, 2018. To learn more about the Hyland’s team and to follow along as they train, visit hylands.com/boston.