Boys’ defensive lacrosse players run their first half-marathon

As their preseason came to a close, the defensive players of the boys’ lacrosse team gathered at the George R. Brown Convention Center alongside more than 28,000 other runners for the joint Chevron Houston Marathon and the Aramco Half-Marathon.

Returning for the first time since the pandemic began, both races kicked off at 7 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 16. For most of the lacrosse players, the date also marked their first time participating in such an event.

“This was an athletic achievement they should be really proud of their entire lives,” Boys’ Lacrosse Defensive Coordinator Roniel Bencosme said. “It was a unique opportunity for them to come together, and they did.”

Bencosme decided to sign up the players to run in the half-marathon shortly after the preseason began. The lacrosse team had not participated in a similar event in recent memory, leaving many players surprised when their coach broke the news.

“At first I thought, ‘Are we really gonna do this? We’re joking, right?’” junior Blake Masterson said. “And then we got more serious about it.”

In addition to the usual preseason training with the rest of the team, the defensive players had dedicated distance-running preparation time during the weekends leading up to the race. The group started by running three miles consistently before gradually increasing the distance to 10.

“They were going to be running anyway,” Bencosme said. “This just amped it up and made people come together more.”

Many of the players found the long-distance training taxing, but junior Brantley Payne found that running as a group made the experience easier.

“It functioned as a team-bonding method,” Payne said. “As long as all the defensive guys are running it, you’re going through that shared experience.”

For the half-marathon, most of the players chose a “buddy” to run and converse with during the race. Senior Brabson Pacha’s favorite part of the experience was spending time with his teammates.

“I got two-hour conversations with my teammates who I never really talked to in-depth before,” Pacha said. 

According to Pacha, the challenge among players was to finish the race in around two hours. Though this mark was a high bar for first-time marathoners, one player met the goal while another surpassed it. 

“I think if you would have taken a poll of the guys before we got really deep into this and asked if they were gonna be able to finish, half of them would say no,” Bencosme said.

Bencosme found that, while the players performed as well as he expected, they were surprised about their own performances. 

“Everyone far exceeded their own expectations of what they could do,” Bencosme said. “That’s why you do this kind of thing—to remind people that they can do more than they think.”

In addition to surpassing personal goals, Bencosme noticed that the players were taking in the crowds and even enjoying themselves as they ran.

“The whole adrenaline rush of running with thousands of people and the people on the sideline cheering us on really helped,” Pacha said.