Ashley Sprunger, 31
Visual manager, wholesale, at Vera Bradley
Sprunger has completed five of the six world marathon majors: Berlin, Boston, Chicago, New York City and Tokyo. With only London left, there presented a challenge to get entry. The race is on her birthday (April 22) so she was determined that 2018 would be the year, no matter the obstacle.
Q. Why London? Why raise money for the entry?
A. When I qualified for Boston, it was for the 2013 Boston Marathon. I was there the year of the bombings. After that, I wanted to set a bigger goal for myself. I kept thinking about the people who were no longer able to run after that. I set the goal for the six world majors. Since 2013, I've set out and completed five of them. (London) is the last one.
Basically, to qualify by time for London. I meet the qualification, but you need to be a U.K. resident. I knew I had to have a different way to get in. Charity was a good option and when I got to thinking about it, I've had friends and family with cleft palate or lip, I thought (raising money for Smile Train) was really a good opportunity.
Q. How have given back to the local running community?
A. I was brought on as the head running coach for Fort Wayne Smallest Winner. I have volunteered my time for three years, which is amazing. Throughout those three years, I've trained people to run their first road races and half marathon and worked with them with training plan after that.
Q. Why do you run? What's your favorite race?
A. Running is the cheapest form of therapy for me. It serves as that for me. I would say Boston is my favorite. Being there in 2013 and being able to go back in 2014 and experiencing the going back, the camaraderie and the million-plus fans on the course. It will definitely hold a special place in my heart, for sure.
Q. Why marathons?
A. I like it because it takes a lot of planning and preparation and being organized and it being well thought out and that's the kind of person I am. I like working up toward the goal just as much as I like completing the goal.
Fun fact, the first road race I ever ran was a full marathon. If I'm going to do this, I'm going to go big or go home, and the second I crossed the finish line, I knew it was for me. It was in 2007 in Huntsville, Alabama.
Q. How do you keep running a priority with the travel for work?
A. The good thing for me, for example, I travel to New York so I get to run in Central Park whenever I want to. It allows me to run around bigger cities, you have to make it a priority. I write my running and workouts down in my planner like I write my work meetings. You just have to make time for it.
Smile Train provides free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries to poor children internationally.
As of Oct. 18, Sprunger had raised $3,720 of her $6,500 goal. All money will be donated to the charity.
To donate to Sprunger's fund, go to SmileTrain.org, click “Get Involved,” and search Sprunger's name in “Browse Fundraisers” or go to my.smiletrain.org/fundraiser/ashleysprungerlondonmarathon20181588834996.