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New Course: Volleyball Standout Alyssa Weaver Discovers New Love of Running, Wins Age Group in Her First Trail Race

KNOX, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Alyssa Weaver stood at the starting line of the Into the Woods 5 Miler at Asbury Nature Center in Erie and wondered what she was getting herself into.

Her heart was pounding — the recent Keystone High School graduate had never run a trail race before. In fact, Weaver had never run any race before.

Running was not a part of her life. It was always a means to an end to get into shape for her true passion — volleyball. Certainly not something to stoke her competitive fire.

Yet here she was Saturday morning, minutes from beginning an arduous five-mile race over tricky terrain and difficult hills, realizing she had never run five miles straight before.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know how this is going to go,’” Weaver said, chuckling. “It can either go good or bad. I can either die in the middle, or I could be OK and finish, so I was kind of nervous.”

Weaver hadn’t trained for the event. She decided to run it on a whim — her father, Jim, is an avid runner, but couldn’t participate in this race because of a camping excursion with some high school friends.

Alyssa Weaver made the decision the night before to run the race.

“I was like, ‘I’m just going to do it,’” Weaver said. “I knew it was going to be difficult because it was a trail race with the rocks and twigs and everything, but I figured I might as well give it a shot, and it was really fun.”

She got a scouting report on the course from some of the other runners at the starting line. She was warned about a particularly daunting hill three miles into the race.

They weren’t lying, Weaver said with a laugh.

“At the three mile mark I felt pretty good,” she said. “Then there was the big hill and that hit me pretty hard. I was doing a good pace, but that hill I was not prepared for. I just kept going.”

Weaver crossed the finish line in a shade over 59 minutes. Her initial goal was simply to complete the course, but the competitor in her kicked in and she amending her expectations to finishing in under an hour.

“I finished and I was really tuckered out, but I was like, ‘That was actually fun and I’d do it again,’” Weaver said.

There was one more surprise in store for Weaver.

She was about to leave when her boyfriend, who went with her for support, gave her some startling news.

He had scanned the QR code to see the results and found Weaver had placed first in the 15-19 age group.

“I was just stretching and eating a banana and my boyfriend was like, ‘You got first in your age group. You’ll probably get an award,’” Weaver said. “I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ It turns out, yeah, I did.”

Weaver got a medal carved out of a piece of wood.

Now Weaver, who will play volleyball at Waynesburg University in the fall after a standout career at Keystone, has caught the running bug.

She already has her sights set on running in a race in Oil City with her father July 3. Weaver plans on training a little bit for that one around preparing for her first collegiate volleyball season.

“It’s definitely something I plan to do, working my way up to doing more races and training more for them,” Weaver said. “It’s something my dad and I can do together.”

Running also provides a nice diversion from being in the gym, practicing her volleyball skills.

Weaver said she hasn’t ruled out running longer races eventually.

“It’s something very rewarding to do,” Weaver said. “Someday I think it would be fun to do a half-marathon or a marathon as I get older. I think it would definitely benefit me for my whole life.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.