WALLINGFORD — Elizabeth Fengler broke the tape at Saturday’s charity 5K at the Hartford Marathon, taking first place while setting a new personal record.
The win is another notch in Fengler’s impressive running belt, as the Wallingford resident also finished first at the Fishbein Road Race and took second at the Apple Harvest Road Race in Southington.
This was Fengler’s first time competing at the Hartford Marathon, but when she found herself among the leaders heading down the stretch, she decided to make a push for first.
”When I was in the second mile, I was still right behind one girl, and she wasn’t really pushing the pace,” Fengler said. “I tried to get out in front of her, and once I passed, I figured ‘let’s win this thing.’ ”
Fengler finished in 18 minutes, 19 seconds. Her mom and boyfriend cheered her on from the crowd, while her brother Stephen, a former runner at Sheehan High School, set a personal record himself in the men’s field after his sister convinced him to lace up with her.
“I needed someone else to come run with me,” Fengler said. “This runs in the family.”
From her father, Tim, to her Uncle Jeff, Liz Fengler is one of a long line of relatives that have made their mark on the running scene. Tim Fengler was a runner in high school and college. Jeff Fengler was a top runner at Sheehan and Quinnipiac University (then Quinnipiac College). It was her older brother Tim Jr. who convinced Liz to go out for cross country in high school, after she lost interest in color guard. Liz was a raw runner when she started at Sheehan, but before long she found her stride.
“Her coaches said she was rough in some areas, but they knew she had potential,” her father said. “She just needed some fine-tuning, and things took off from there.”
Like a runner gaining speed after a sluggish start, Fengler would graduate Sheehan with the school record in the 1,600 meters, which is now side-by-side with her brother Stephen’s school record in the 3,200 meters. Once she discovered her running gene, she left her opponents in the dust.
Fengler’s competitive edge comes from her desire to always match stride with whoever is ahead of the pack, even if the runners aren’t in her field.
”I always try to compete with all the guys and let them know ‘hey, I’m here keeping up and running right alongside you guys.’ ” she said.
Thanks to her competitive fire, Fengler has another medal for her trophy case, one that she considers to be among her most treasured accomplishments.
”It’s definitely at the top,” she said of her most recent win. “I’ve never run that large of a race. I just wanted to push myself and hope for the best. I can’t believe I won. I was pleasantly surprised with myself.”