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HomeATHLETESLong-Distance Runner Alicia Monson Finds Time to Stand Still

Long-Distance Runner Alicia Monson Finds Time to Stand Still

As a high school senior and a musical theater enthusiast in Amery, Wis., Alicia Monson hoped to join her classmates in their production of “The Wizard of Oz” in the fall of 2015.

In fact, Monson could have had a leading role, said Laura Badman, who was co-directing the show. Monson had a lovely singing voice.

“She was an alto,” Badman said. “She was very good at harmonizing.”

The problem was that Monson knew she needed to focus on her cross-country season. She was a top college prospect who had designs on a state title. Still, Badman could sense that Monson was torn — the lure of musical theater was strong — so Badman floated the possibility of her taking on a slightly less demanding role. Monson jumped at the chance.

“She was a tree,” Badman said.


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Monson never needed to be the star, said Badman, who has since retired as the choir director at Amery High School. Monson simply wanted to be a part of something that she enjoyed, and she wanted to do her job well. In high school, Badman said, that meant that Monson was perfectly content to join rehearsals three times a week so that she could take the stage in a garland of leaves and yell at Dorothy for picking her apples.

In some ways, not much has changed. Monson, 25, has committed herself to something that she enjoys, even as fame has found her. Badman was watching from home in Amery on Saturday as Monson took the stage, finishing fifth in the women’s 10,000 meters at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

“She’s just amazing,” Badman said in a phone interview. “She’s never wanted to miss out on any opportunities that she might be able to benefit from or learn from.”

Monson, who will race in a preliminary heat of the 5,000 on Wednesday, has already had a remarkable year. She has broken American records in three events, including the 5,000 and the 10,000, and her performance on Saturday offered redemption: She had wanted to improve on her 13th-place finish in the event at last year’s world championships.

“I knew I was better than that, and I wanted to make myself proud,” she said, adding: “I don’t think I ever fully got over it. Every practice, I was like, I need to get better, I need to put myself out there.”



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