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March 11, 2013

She’s going the distance: Charlestown resident to represent U.S. in 24-hour race in the Netherlands

CHARLESTOWN — Traci Falbo ran competitively in high school and college, but for 10 years after getting out of school, she did nothing.

“I got pregnant and got fat,” said Falbo, 41, of Charlestown. 

But one day, she looked in the mirror and didn’t like what she saw. So she decided to lace up her running shoes again and hit the pavement.

She has been running ever since.

Falbo lost 80 pounds in a year but didn’t stop there. She took her running to another level and beyond.

Since 2004, Falbo has run in 79 marathons and nine ultra-marathons, which is anything beyond a marathon distance of 26.2 miles. In the last three years, she has competed in more than 20 marathons.

Beginning Dec. 31 and finishing on Jan. 1, Falbo competed in the Freedom Park New Year’s Ultra Run in Morganton, N.C., and totaled 137.98 miles in 24 hours. That earned her a spot on the United States team which will compete in the Ultrarun of Steenbergen, the Netherlands, May 11-12. She is one of six women on the team.

“I am so thrilled to be representing my country,” she said prior to a workout recently. “It’s really a dream come true.”

The ninth edition of the Ultrarun of Steenbergen will officially kick-off May 10 with the flag parade.

 Most 24-hour races are held on a mile loop of some kind. The scenery during the competition doesn’t change — it’s both a physical and mental test, Falbo said.

“You run laps, but you don’t get overly bored with it,” she said. “When I ran in North Carolina, I thought this was the stupidest thing I had ever done when I was 10, 11 hours into it. Some say it gets easier after midnight. You battle yourself some [mentally]. It’s tough.”

During the 24-hour races, Falbo said you continually drink and eat to keep your body nourished and functioning. And there is very little stopping if you are serious about winning or finishing at the top of the pack. She said you have to stop to use the bathroom, and a few other times along the way you may decide to walk briefly. But it’s a running event.

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Amy Harpenau is the new director of theater arts at New Albany High School. Harpenau is a 2007 graduate of Floyd Central High School, has appeared on stage at both high schools and worked in theaters since she graduated college.

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