By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
A Cooperstown Central School junior achieved his goal of running a marathon before his 16th birthday.
Fred Hodgson, who turns 16 Friday, Oct. 22, finished the Syracuse Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 17, in 3 hours, 55 minutes and 13 seconds. His time placed Hodgson 58th out of 178 runners. He placed first in his age bracket, but that was expected, he said.
“I was the youngest person in the race by about four years,” he said Monday.
Hodgson said he was inspired by his parents, John Hodgson and Sariya Sharp, who ran the New York Marathon together in 2019. He ran a half marathon a year ago with a similar mindset, completing the challenge before he turned 15 — and said he started preparing for Syracuse in early 2020.
“The marathon was for 2021, but I started planning this in March 2020,” he said.
A reserve on Cooperstown’s undefeated boys soccer team, Hodgson said he was grateful to his coaches and teammates for allowing him to participate in soccer despite his personal challenge.
“I am grateful to Coach Frank Miosek and Coach Lucas Spencer,” he said. “At first, I was not going to play soccer. Then Coach Miosek said I could participate just as my scheduled allowed, so I decided to do both.”
Hodgson did not miss any games until the past week, but he would trade some practices for long runs as he kept to a 20-week prep for the marathon. He said he peaked his training about three weeks ago and made sure to carbo-load going into the event.
“It was actually easier than I expected for the first 18 miles,” he said. “I did everything you were supposed to do — I had tapered legs, I had carbo-loading, I did all the stretching — and it got me off to a good start.
“The end, 18 to 26, that was the most challenging experience of my life,” he continued. “I cried. I think I started crying at 18 and did not stop until I finished.”
Hodgson gutted out the final miles and met his goal of a sub-four-hour marathon.
“(At the finish line) I was shouting ‘woo hoo’ and ‘let’s go’ and giving (my family) high fives,” he said. “It was so exciting. I couldn’t believe it. I did everything in my power to make it to the end.”
Hodgson accomplished the feat despite a major soccer injury he suffered in sixth grade, when he tore his right meniscus and required surgery. However, he has shown no long-term effects from the injury.
Goal met, Hodgson said his first marathon may be his last.
“I think if I had not finished in under four hours, I would have run another marathon,” he said. “Now, since I acheived my goal, I don’t think I am going to run another marathon.”
After a couple of days to recover, Hodgson will rejoin the Hawkeyes on their section-title quest. In the winter, he will swim and in the spring he will run track.
His future goals include hiking with his family and perhaps some increased weight lifting, he said.