Mitch Negus was a notoriously slow athlete as a child. His baseball coaches would take him off-base because he was so slow.
But Sunday, Negus, 23, earned seventh place in the annual Berkeley Half Marathon with a time of 1:15:34.
Negus started his running career eight years ago in high school, he said. He saw running as an opportunity to prove everyone who ever thought he was a slow athlete wrong.
“I discovered that I really like being competitive,” Negus said.
He ran cross country and track for the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Now, he is a nuclear engineering doctoral student at UC Berkeley.
Last year, Negus participated in the Berkeley Half Marathon and had an “absolute blast,” he said. For this year’s race, he trained much harder.
In preparation for this half marathon, Negus trained by himself and with the Strawberry Canyon Track Club for six months. Negus runs 9-10 miles six days a week, and he trains with his track club twice a week for more intense, short interval workouts.
As a graduate student, Negus said it is hard to find time to have a regular training regimen, so he runs whenever he has time.
While Negus earned seventh place in the male category, the half marathon winner was Ty Mogan, a junior track and field athlete at Montana State University.
Mogan finished in 1:07:29 to earn first place in the male race. In high school, Mogan was the 2013 state champion in the 3,200 meter and 1,600 meter events.
Madeline Duhon, the female winner who ran with a time of 1:18:53, is a Texas native who ran cross country and track at Stanford University. After Stanford, she participated in research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and she currently attends UC Berkeley as an economics doctoral student.
Cindy Myers, spokesperson for the event, said the entire Berkeley community has “embraced” the race. According to Myers, about 9,000 participants ran in this year’s event, which also includes a 10-kilometer race, a 5-kilometer race and a youth 5-kilometer race.
According to Myers, one of the intentions of the half marathon is to raise funds for local Berkeley public schools. This year, runners helped raise $25,000, Myers said.
“They raised money to allow teachers to create special programs in their classroom,” Myers said.
According to Myers, the 2017 half marathon was a success, and she said she believes there is an opportunity to expand the event even more and capitalize on the race’s emphasis on physical fitness and the area’s nice weather.
“It’s hard work, but it really pays off,” Negus said.