Jessica Stolen-Jacobson Editor [email protected]
Shi-Quan Nettingham spent his first winter in Minnesota after moving from Las Vegas just over a year ago running across the freezing prairie to train for his longtime goal of running the Boston Marathon . Nettingham, KDMA’s athletic director, has been running for nearly 13 years, starting in high school track and cross country. It was not his intention, originally, to become so involved in running, because at the time, basketball was his favorite sport. He says he used to use running as a way to stay fit in the off season, but soon found a love for the sport. “I kind of fell in love with it. It’s a healthy lifestyle, and it’s really become kind of an addiction,” he says.
When he started running, Nettingham says he thought he would be a sprinter. “I didn’t even imagine I was going to be a distance runner, and then my coach said I think we should give it a try, and that’s how I got introduced. She persuaded me to do cross country and that’s when I really fell in love with her. It felt like I wasn’t just running in a circle around the track. In cross-country, you run on different terrain and you have a goal: to run somewhere. I was addicted,” he says. After high school, Nettingham went to Dixie State University in St. George, Utah on a running scholarship. He’s done a few half marathons, but wanted to do longer marathons. “I wanted to get into these trips and travel around the world doing marathons,” Nettingham said. Prior to qualifying for the Boston Marathon, Nettingham has competed in four full marathons to date. “Boston will definitely be the biggest I’ve ever done,” he said.
After qualifying for the Boston Marathon, Nettingham knew he had to focus on training, despite the winds, snow and extremely cold weather that plagued the area over the winter. “Normally you train about three to four months ahead to build up a tolerance. I average about six miles a day. You start with that as a base and then gradually add to it. I would go to 14 miles and then at 16, 18, and a few 20 mile races. It takes months of training, and this winter has been a challenge, especially with the prairie wind and running outside all that time, but I love it so much that and I love being outdoors,” says Nettingham.
Nettingham, 27, qualified for his age group by running in a qualifying time of under three hours at the Mankato Marathon in October. It was actually Nettingham’s second time qualifying, as he previously clocked the time in a race in California in order to run the Boston Marathon in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic ended that opportunity. . “It’s a big deal for me because it’s the marathon I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve waited two years to come back to this moment,” he said. “That’s why I’m very motivated to start again.”
The Boston Marathon is a 26.2 mile course held in the city. The trip was also Nettingham’s first visit to Boston, but he had heard a bit about the course, noting that it was rumored to be mostly downhill with a few hills towards the end, including one dubbed Heartbreak Hill. About 30,000 runners have qualified to compete in the 126th Boston Marathon race this year. Nettingham finished the marathon with a time of three hours and 47 minutes.
Before heading out for the marathon, Nettingham said what he was most looking forward to was the whole experience. “Just being in such a historic city, and because it’s actually the oldest marathon at least in the United States, being a part of that history is going to be exciting. And knowing that there will be so many different people from all over the world and seeing so many different levels of elite runners. My goal is to really enjoy the experience instead of going for a while. I just want to sit back and enjoy it because I feel like I worked hard to get here, so savoring the moment is the most important thing to me,” he said.
On Monday, recovering from the marathon and the flight back to Minnesota, Nettingham reported the race went well. Having battled a knee injury, he said after mile 16 the pain in his hips from compensating for the knee injury set in, making the rest of the race quite difficult.
“I was happy to have finished and I felt so good afterwards. It was just amazing to see all these people and fans cheering you on along the way, and that’s something I didn’t have. never lived,” Nettingham said.
Her favorite experience during the marathon came mid-run, when a college of girls led their annual tradition of cheering on runners, holding signs asking them to stop for a kiss. “I didn’t see anyone else doing it and I didn’t want to be the only one, but it was motivating for sure,” he joked.
He says it’s definitely an experience he would like to repeat in the future. “I would definitely go back and do it again, especially healthy. I would love to go and experience it when I feel 100 percent and see how I can do then, but the overall experience was awesome,” Nettingham said.
He was also impressed with the representation from around the world, as he joined runners from Africa, Europe and many other places.
Nettingham also noted that he dedicated this race to the local community. “I wanted to dedicate this run to Clara City, Montevideo, Granite Falls and surrounding areas because I feel like this community has had such an impact on my life over the past year and I felt very happy here . God moved me here for a reason. I just want everyone here to know it was for you,” he said.
Nettingham moved to Clara City after being hired to be KDMA’s athletic director in March 2021, working to cover sports for the Yellow Medicine East, Montevideo and MACCRAY school districts. “I really enjoyed myself here. I like the tight-knit community, the small-town vibe. Being in a big city, you don’t realize what it’s like until you’re there. A lot of people have asked me how I made the transition from such a big city to a small town, but when I went to college it was a small town and it was the first time I I saw empty streets at nine o’clock at night, and I realized that places were actually closed like that. But it was quiet. And there are a lot of really genuine people here,” he says.