In England, cricket and rugby were the big sports. In Florida, it was volleyball and baseball. In New Hampshire, Alayna Marsh found soccer quite intriguing.
But track is the one constant throughout the Ilwaco senior’s journeys.
“I could always say ‘I run track,’” she said. “It’s always something they do have. It’s just one of those things that’s very easy to adapt.”
Marsh has done better than adapt. Excel is more like it, after she won medals in the 400 and helped all three relays, including the title-winning 4x200 team, to medals at last year’s 2B State Championships in Cheney. After finally ridding herself of a nagging calf sprain, Marsh is eager to make one final run this season.
“It drives me to think about racing,” said Marsh, who — despite being questioned frequently about it — is of no relation to the family that owns Marsh’s Museum.
Unlike the shrunken heads that reside in the Long Beach shop, Marsh has been a welcome addition since arriving in Ilwaco before her sophomore year. She moved across the Atlantic Ocean to Florida when she was 11 before her parents wanted to experience four seasons a year. A brief journey to New Hampshire wasn’t quite what they had in mind.
“They realized the winters in New Hampshire are five or six months long,” Marsh said.
So again they moved, this time to the Washington state coast, where her mom found a job as a nurse practitioner. She also has two sisters — a sophomore and an eighth-grader.
Everywhere Marsh has gone, she’s ran. In the drizzly overcast of England to the humidity of Florida, Marsh has been running “since I can remember.”
She ran in between snow piles near Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, which “got nice once the snow melted,” and now finds herself once again dodging the showers in Ilwaco.
“Everywhere brings a little different atmosphere,” she said.
Despite an injury that put Marsh out of commission for a couple weeks and forced her to play catch-up, she still has high hopes to finish her high school career strong. The relay teams boast plenty of talent despite seeing Makenzie Kaech venture onto the golf course and Anessa Woodby graduate.
“Last year was a really fun experience and I think a big motivator for this year too,” Marsh said. “Once you have that trophy, you don’t want to let it go.”
But Marsh is also hoping to add hardware in her individual event as well — the 400, a race many describe as the hardest in track. She doesn’t agree with that notion.
“I can’t even imagine the 300 hurdles. That’s on another level,” Marsh said. “It’s almost a 400 with obstacles.”
Still, the 400 isn’t an easy task.
“Just thinking about it gives me butterflies. Like, why do I do that to myself?’” Marsh laughed. “Running that back straight feels so lonely. You’re like ‘This is the longest race in the world.’
“But it makes me feel powerful, strong, and it drives me to want to be better.”