When former Payson Junior High School physical education teacher Ruth Ann Scott urged eighth-grader Monica Beeler (now Savage) to run a marathon, little did the instructor know she was igniting a passion that would last a lifetime.
Since that first marathon more than 20 years ago, Savage has become one of the most accomplished long-distance runners in the Rim country.
Only last Friday at the town of Payson Monsoon 5K, Savage won first place overall in the event. Competing in the 30- to 39-years female age bracket, she took the lead at the start of the race and was never challenged.
Her time of 22:01 was one second better than she was clocked last May at the Habitat for Humanity 5K held over the same Green Valley Park cross country course.
The Monsoon win marked the first time Savage has captured the overall championship of the Monsoon run.
"I've won the female (division) championship but not the overall (title)," she said.
Next up for Savage is a one-half marathon in December in Tucson.