Wildcat Watch: Alumna earns top 20 finish at New York City Marathon

Alia Gray
Former Chico State distance runner Alia Gray, far right, competes in the New York City Marathon. Photo courtesy of Alia Gray

Alia Gray knew after she ran the 10K at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in June that she wanted to run a marathon.

Gray, a former Chico State distance runner, recently completed the New York City Marathon. She finished 16th in the women’s division, running the 26-mile course in 2 hours, 39 minutes and 43 seconds.

“The New York City Marathon intrigued me,” Gray said. “The course is known for being a challenging one, but with incredible energy from the city. Ultimately, I wanted my next marathon to be one that I would be excited to be at, and for me, that was New York.”

Gray said she enjoyed the perks of being accepted as an elite, professional runner in the race. One of the perks was that the race organization delivered bottles across the course for the elites to easily spot and grab while running by.

“The day before the race, I filled seven small water bottles with my sports drink mix, and secured several PowerBar gels to them,” Gray said.

Race time was 9:10 a.m Nov. 1. The weather wasn’t particularly great and, as one would expect, race day was pretty hectic.

“We all knew the night before that conditions were going to be very windy,” Gray said. “My alarm went off at 4 a.m. and I had to make it to a 5 a.m. breakfast. By 6 a.m. I was going through security and boarding the bus.”

To pass the time, she listened to music to try and stay relaxed. Gray also jogged for around 10 minutes about 50 minutes before start time. The gusting winds made for a chilly race.

“I kept my sweats on for as long as I could before ditching them,” Gray said. “Once the gun went off, I tried to find some other women to run with, especially for that particular day. My ability to lock in with a group of several other women running at the pace I wanted made my race. I just tried to enjoy the experience and get the most of my legs on that day.”

Gray did get the most out of her legs as she became the sixth American to cross the finish line. What Gray took away from the race will last a lifetime.

“This marathon was really big for me because of the way I was able to compete during it,” Gray said. “I felt that I ran a really smart and strong race for that day. I’m excited to see what I can do on a course that’s a little less technical with more favorable weather conditions.”

When running as much as Gray does, the type of shoe is very important. Gray has been wearing the same brand since high school.

“I run for Brooks Running, and wear and train in their gear and shoes,” Gray said. “When you run such a high mileage, you end up burning a lot of training shoes. The support I’ve received from Brooks throughout the year has been great, especially considering that I’ve ran in their shoes since my time in high school.”

The running doesn’t stop here for Gray, as she is qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials which takes place in Los Angeles on Feb. 13, 2016.

Gray doesn’t forget her days as a Wildcat runner from 2007 to 2012. In her last season, she finished first in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships and got All-CCAA recognition.

“I was at Chico State for five years and I loved it,” Gray said. “The memories I made during my time there are countless. But if I had to sum up my student-athlete experience, I would say this: it allowed me to grow to love the sport in a way I never expected. Running my undergraduate years truly made my college experience much richer.”


Angelo Boscacci can be reached at [email protected] or @Boscacci6 on Twitter.