One senior’s weekend: standardized testing, running a marathon


Rain, Chips and Handshakes • Addison Dunbar ’20 shakes the hand of a Marine Corps member. At the end of the 26th mile, several members of the Marine Corps waited to congratulate the runners who successfully completed the marathon. Photo courtesy of Addison Dunbar.

While taking the ACT may seem comparable to the challenge of running a marathon to most, senior Addison Dunbar did both within just 24 hours. She and her mother, Courtney Fox Dunbar, ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. on Oct. 27. But before the duo could run through Georgetown University, Downtown D.C. and the National Mall, Dunbar had to take the ACT.

She took the ACT at Woodrow Wilson High School without knowing anything about the school or anyone in the room with her. “I surprisingly felt comfortable not knowing anyone,” Dunbar said. “It was nice. I just focused on what I needed to do and left!” Her confidence in the environment helped, and this ACT ended up being her highest score. After finishing the test, she took an Uber by herself to her hotel and prepared for the race.

Dunbar credits part of her success in the marathon to her involvement in the Marian Varsity Cross Country team. However, she admits that she wishes she spent more time training long distance running instead of the shorter distances she is used to. 

Dunbar explained that although the race was rewarding, there were difficult parts as well. From her headphones dying, pouring rain for the first sixteen miles and her purple pants bleeding into her shirt as a result of the rain, it was a test of determination and persistence. 

“I hit the runner’s block at mile 22 and a half, and my body started to shut down. At mile 23, I was sobbing my eyes out and some lady had a bag of salt and vinegar chips for the participants, and I snatched them out of her hand and ate them while I was running,” Dunbar said. By the time she finished mile 26 in just over five hours, she was greeted by the Marine Corps with a medal and a salute. She and 30,000 other participants ran in the marathon that day with many supporters on the side, including her dad. 

Though taking a standardized test and running may not seem like the most similar challenges, Dunbar feels that they both taught her about persistence, and inspired her to pursue more marathons in the future.  “I’m a lot stronger than I think I am,” Dunbar said.

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