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Locals staying active with marathons

NATCHEZ — Two Natchez-natives, one a first-timer and the other a wily veteran, made their way to Jackson Jan. 5, for the Mississippi Blues Marathon, and both came away pleased with the results and the experience.

Andrew Haile has made a lifestyle out of distance running over the past few years, and although he has been on runs longer than the 26.2 miles he ran in Jackson, he had never run a competitive marathon.

“It was fantastic,” Haile said. “The weather was perfect for running. The course was hilly, but for my first marathon as far as competitiveness and number of people, it was awesome.”

Haile finished with a time of three hours and 25 minutes, which beat the goal he set for himself by 15 minutes. The 38-year-old runner’s time was good enough for fifth in his age group.

Haile’s Natchez running partner, Dr. Ed Daly, was running his 30th marathon, and he finished 28th overall with a time of three hours and nine minutes.

“I felt I did real well,” Daly said. “I had smooth energies the entire time. My marathon performance is pretty much consistent. The only problem I have is when it gets hot.”

Daly, 46, served as a teacher and mentor for Haile in his first marathon, and Daly said he was impressed with his colleague’s performance.

“He has done so well,” Daly said. “He’s extremely disciplined, which is one of the most important things. He really enjoys it.”

Haile was also impressed with his teacher’s performance.

“A guy from Oregon broke the course record, but Dr. Daly finished with a time of 3:09, which impressed me more so almost, because it was only the pros that finished sub-three (hours),” he said.

Daly and Haile met approximately a year ago as members of the Fat Mama’s Knocked Naked running club, and they now run with one another frequently, and both runners said it helps to have someone by your side when running long distances.

“It makes a huge difference (to have a partner),” Daly said. “It makes an enormous difference in your confidence having someone with you. It helps for safety purposes, and you can chitchat to keep your mind off the body aches.”

Daly has the experience of 30 marathons and a number of ultra marathons that range from 50 to 100 miles in length. Haile hopes to use some of that experience to help him prepare for an ultra marathon the two plan on running in March.

“I couldn’t ask for somebody better to keep me motivated and run with,” Haile said. “I log about half my miles with him every week.”

The two men will run in the Mississippi 50 Trail Run March 2 in Laurel, and they are currently in the process of training for that event.

“I was mainly using the marathon as part of my training for this,” Haile said. “My ultimate goal is to compete in a 50-mile run.”

Both men run every day to train and each will throw in one long run of at least 20 miles once or twice a week, Haile said.

Daly said the ultra marathon events are what really get him excited, even though he has run in some of the most prestigious marathons in the country, including the Boston Marathon.

“I enjoy Boston. It’s a very unique experience,” Daly said. “But I actually much prefer running a race on a trail out in the woods. I do longer races, so Boston has not been the Holy Grail for me so to speak.”

Daly is assisting Haile in preparation for the former’s first ultra marathon, and the veteran thinks his pupil will fare well.

“I have full expectations he’s going to have a really good performance,” he said. “It takes time though. I’ve been doing it since 2004, and I’ve just really hit my groove the last couple of years.”

Haile still has a long way to run to catch Daly’s longest distances of 100 miles, but he hopes to eventually work his way to those distances, he said.

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