Name: Aaron Willingham
School: Mt. Blue High School
What was your most memorable race?
My most memorable race for me had to be cross country states my senior year. I have never felt nervousness like I did that day, I almost threw up. Going into the race, I was nervous about four people, all of which could have won that race. I tried to do what I usually do and lead the whole race, but Murdick came out of nowhere and took the lead with 600 to go. I almost gave up, wanting so hard to just let him take it. Though something came over me as we came upon the final hill. It came down to the final kick and I only managed to win by a hair, not even a second. That was the most exhilarating race for me. No doubt about that.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
I would have to say in Maine, my biggest competition would be the Lewiston duo: Osman and Isaiah. I have no doubt in my mind that Isaiah would’ve been able to also take a state title in cross country as well as track. He beat me a couple of times that season. Then there’s Osman. Boy is that dude fast. Osman definitely works hard at what he does, and he runs damn well too. I am very excited to see what his senior year will entail. I’ll always remember running with these two because every race was a good one. They always made it interesting and fun.
What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment was definitely staying injury free. Learning how to take care of my body was actually really hard for me. As stupid as it sounds, taking care of legs was just as taxing as the workouts themselves.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
I would definitely learn how to appreciate running sooner. I didn’t really enjoy running until I moved to Maine and started training with Kelley. Running is just something I thoroughly enjoy now, and I think I became a better runner when I felt this.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
Coming off an injury is never fun. Two thirds of my running seasons junior year were spent learning how to race again. I had to overcome the fear of hurting myself again. I didn’t trust myself, and I wanted nothing more than to just stop running in a race. Overcoming that was the hardest thing I’ve had to do.
What will you miss the most?
I will miss all of the relationships I’ve made through the running community. The Lewiston team, Brunswick team, and certainly my own team made Maine my home, and I will always appreciate the welcoming vibe that they always gave off.
What advice you would give to younger athletes?
It took me a long time to figure this out, and by a long time I mean up until senior year (Yes, I figured this out only senior year). Running, competing are not your job. They are a hobby. We shouldn’t run to win. We should run to have fun, and what’s more fun than first place. I didn’t start doing well in running until I started having fun with it.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
Oh Kelley. What is there to say than that she is one of the most influential people in my life? I would put her up there with Bowerman. She really cares about her athletes and takes care of every single one; never picking favorites. She has really shaped me into the runner I am now. Making me learn the pains of humility and pride at the same time.
What are your college plans?
I’m headed up to Orono for college. My plans there are to study and run, and that’ll probably take up my whole schedule.
Who would you like to say thank you to?
I would just like to say thank you to Mama Willingham for birthing me. Papa Willingham for telling me no. Kelley for telling me “run”. And God for giving me legs.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I would just like to say that Ben True beat Galen Rupp recently, and that just shows that Maine runners are awesome. Go Maine. All of you Maine runners are beautiful creatures put on this earth for a reason. Run long and Prosper.
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