Lauren Nossek Hinrichsen has stayed active in the decade since she graduated from Payson High School in 2011.

She graduated from the University of Arizona and moved to Minneapolis, Minn. for a career as a research and development analyst with Land-O-Lakes.

Hinrichsen ran track (middle distance, distance) and cross country for the Longhorns.

“I did high jump my senior year after my sister graduated,” she said.

Her sister, Madelyn Nossek Ellis, set school records in the high jump and 400. “Last we knew she had the school high jump and 400 records and we haven’t heard of anyone getting it yet but they may have by now,” Hinrichsen said.

She joined a running club in Minnesota.

“I was looking for a way to meet new people and really had the connection with track and joined a running club five years ago,” she said. “Four years ago, one of our coaches told us about this Moab Trail Marathon. But with COVID-19, we decided not to do it.”

But it only motivated them to take part this year.

“It was a bucket list for the group,” Hinrichsen said. “Nine of us — the Minnesota Crew — went down. I spent a week in Payson acclimating to get used to (the higher elevation) to get ready for the race, then drove up with my parents (Scott and Janet Nossek) the day before the race and met everybody in Utah.”

The race was Nov. 6, nearly five months after her previous marathon, Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn. on June 19.

But the Utah experience was something very different for her.

“It was a full marathon, 26.2 miles, and like nothing else we’ve been on,” Hinrichsen said. “It’s some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever done. I don’t know how many times we turned to each other and said, ‘I can’t believe we get to do this.’”

The race was mentally and physically challenging, to say the least. That’s before the twist at the end.

“We were surprised to learn the last three miles were an obstacle course,” Hinrichsen said. “We knew there were elements and we might have to rope climb, but we thought it was spread out. But it was all in the last 5K(ilometers).”

Completing a 26.2-mile trail run with obstacles took everything she had.

“It required an amount of mental strength I’ve never had to (have) before,” Hinrichsen said. “I thought, ‘I don’t know if I have the strength to do this.’”

She dug deep and found a way to complete her first trail marathon and seventh marathon in all.

She started running long races with the 2015 Tucson Marathon.

Time goals weren’t in play for her in Utah.

“In previous marathons I usually try to shoot for sub-four hours, but coming from Minnesota we can’t train on mountains or hills, so I just had to throw any time goals out the window in this one.”

She finished in about six hours and 40 minutes.

“We were just happy to do it,” she said. “There was a thought going in of ‘We’re not going to worry about time.’ But (our) competitive side kicked in and were saying, ‘No, we’ve got to run as fast as we can.’

“If we were doing it again I would try and train for a trail marathon,” she said.

She plans on taking some time before her next marathon.

“I think the next one on the schedule is October of next year,” she said. “It’s the Twin Cities, which is a great race. We’ll let our bodies heal and start training again in the spring.”

Her husband wasn’t able to be with her in Utah. He isn’t a runner, but “he’s a great support crew,” she said.

She also competes in shorter races like 10-milers and half-marathons. Her running club competed in the Twin Cities in Motion 10-Miler on Oct. 3 as part of the training for the Moab Marathon.

She said she runs an average of approximately 40 miles a week.

“It’s funny, this is like a hobby, a balance with work and I went back to school,” she said. “Usually (my) longest is a two-miler.”

She said the Twin Cities Marathon is probably the biggest race she’s competed in.

So far.

She’s got a bigger goal after she wraps up her degree in data analytics from ASU online, which “As a U of A graduate it really hurts, but they had the best program I was looking for.

“Of course, the goal is always Boston,” she said. “I’m hoping to get there some day. I haven’t hit it (qualifying time) yet, but I’d say that’s a goal for 2022 once I graduate. That’s been on my radar.”

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