Blackwell’s cross-country record just the beginning

Junior finds joy in running, posts school-best 5K time


Kaya Stone

Blackwell races the 5K at the Georgetown Invitational where she established a new school record.

Camilla Vandegrift, staff reporter

On the breezy morning of Oct. 1, junior Josie Blackwell ran the Georgetown Invitational, the last cross-country race before the upcoming district meet. Blackwell emerged from the finish line with not just a new personal best but also a new school record, the fastest ever 5K race for a McCallum girl with a time of 20:22.

Last year she wasn’t in our top seven, and now she’s our top girl.

— cross country coach Courtney Long

Blackwell has come a long way from her running origins, starting competitively when she was just 8 years old. She was drawn to the sport because it doesn’t involve contact and because it felt “freeing” to her. Blackwell quit running competitively when she was in eighth grade to preserve her mental health, but since the end of her freshman year, she has been training for a comeback.

McCallum cross country coach Courtney Long has viewed this comeback from the sidelines.

 “Last year, at the beginning of the season, Josie did not like running anymore,” Long said. “By the end of the season, she loved it enough to join Born to Run.”

Born to Run, a local running club, has aided in Blackwell’s preparation for this year’s running season. Blackwell said that running with a club has given her something to look forward to and has improved her time.

“It’s helped me stay really consistent every day,” Blackwell said. “I have a coach that sees my potential and helps me be confident.”

Long has taken note of Blackwell’s progress. 

“Last year she wasn’t in our top seven, and now she’s our top girl,” Long said. 

Blackwell’s record break astounded the whole team, including Long. 

This is just the beginning for me.

— Josie Blackwell

“[I’m] in shock. It’s amazing” the second-year coach said. “I can’t believe it.”

Fellow McCallum teammate and Born to Run member junior David Herring has also recognized Blackwell’s recent accomplishments. 

“I can really tell that she has pushed it more, and she’s caught up with the fastest girl,” Herring said.

Herring has seen the positive impact that the season has had on Blackwell. 

“I think Josie has definitely found more enjoyment in the sport with having better times this year and breaking the record.”

With the Georgetown Invitational complete, the runners have one last fateful meet to race in, the District Championships on Thursday. The race will determine if the team can move on to regionals. If the team doesn’t place within the top three, the 2022 season is over.

“I think it’s going to be a very good meet,” Herring said. “Everyone’s come a long way from our first practice meet together. Everyone’s better at how they run, their form, everything they do in the race, how they think during a race.”

The only limits you have are the ones you set for yourself.

— Josie Blackwell

Blackwell hopes to advance to regionals and extend the length of the season. 

“This is just the beginning for me,” Blackwell said. 

She plans to keep running every day, and next year she hopes to get a time under 20 minutes to break the school record again, this time a record that she set.

As for future runners who may go looking to beat Blackwell’s time, or simply improve their speed, she has some words of wisdom to share. 

“The best advice I have for athletes but for anyone really is to remember that the only limits you have are the ones you set for yourself.”