Former Wildcat to make marathon debut

Kevin Lucena

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Former Chico State distance runner Kara Lubieniecki, left, competes in a race. Photo Courtesy Gary Towne

Wake up at 5 a.m. Go for an eight-mile run. Work in the Integrative Physiology of Aging lab at the University of Colorado from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Take another eight-mile run, head home for dinner, then off to bed to be ready to do it all again tomorrow.

For former Chico State long-distance runner Kara Lubieniecki, that’s her daily routine as she readies for her marathon debut at the California International Marathon in December, while also pursing her master’s degree in cellular and molecular biology at the University Of Colorado.

“If I have an event coming up, then I usually run at least 100 miles a week for training,” Lubieniecki said. “Everyone at the research lab is pretty active and they’re great about giving me time for training or events.”

The event is one of several Lubieniecki plans to enter in as she continues training to qualify for the US Women’s Olympic Marathon team in 2016. In January, Lubieniecki finished 10th at the US Women’s Half-Marathon Championship in Houston to move onto the second stage of qualification for the Olympic team.

“The Olympic trial for the marathon is in February of 2016, but starting the year before, qualifying for the indoor 10K track team opens up,” Lubieniecki said. “My goal is to be on both teams.”

Since leaving Chico State, Lubieniecki has joined the Hudson Training System team in Boulder, Colorado. The team, led by former Oregon Duck Brad Hudson, sponsors runners in the area. It helps athletes find races and gives them a group of runners to train and compete with.

Although she may be running with another coach and team now, the Chico State team, particularly head cross-country coach Gary Towne, who still sends early-morning texts wishing her luck before races, are never far from her mind, Lubieniecki said.

“I’m really grateful to have had Gary as my coach,” she said. “He built our team into a family and made me fall in love with the sport. He built my running base, taught me a lot about racing and gave me the tools to continue racing after Chico State. I made sure to drive down and support the team at the last two track nationals in Colorado.”

Lubieniecki said she has had to grow up a lot since leaving Chico State, especially off the track. She has to plan her training schedule around school and work, without the team planning practice for her. Competing against other women who have over a decade more experience than her has helped her improve mentally, and she’s learned what risks she can or cannot take in a race.

Lubieniecki’s next event will be a half-marathon in Pittsburgh in early November.


Kara Lubieniecki Career Stats

  • 2009-2010 Chico State Richard Dahl Female
    Scholar-Athlete of the Year

  • 2009-2010 ESPN The Magazine Academic
    All-District first team selection

  • Two-time All-American, one for track, one for

  • Three-time CCAA All-Academic team

  • Two-time All-CCAA

  • 2010 CCAA champion in the 1,500-meter

  • Fastest 1,500 meters in Chico State history


Kevin Lucena can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_sports on Twitter.

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