Keeping a steady pace, Jiwon Chung (10) glances back to spot another pair of runners fiercely trying to close the gap. Has it been five minutes? Perhaps seven? Coming to a halt, she breathes in deeply as streaks of aching pain strike her chest. Streams of sweat trickle down her back and her feet are on fire. For her, every moment is painstaking—and yet she forces herself to make one last dash and crosses the finish line, emerging victoriously as she then smiles proudly. Because she has encountered numerous changes in her life that have fortified her will, Jiwon is not only defined by her skill of self-discipline but more notably, by her willingness to spend time in her close community of determined runners.
Jiwon has been intimately involved in running since middle school. Having grown up in Greenwich, Connecticut, Jiwon has since embraced running as a crucial part of her life. She ran track and field in elementary school, a different kind of running from cross-country, which requires more endurance and a stronger mentality to finish a single race. After she moved to SIS in the seventh grade, however, Jiwon was disappointed to discover that there is no track and field team at SIS. She instead ended up joining the school cross-country team in her first year and pursued her athletic career in high school, rising to one of the most prominent female runners at SIS where she usually ranks as second in her team.
“Running is extremely demanding, especially for long distance,” Jiwon said. “You need to work strenuously every day to maintain a fit body and improve your record. But the satisfaction of finishing every lengthy race, overcoming physical pressures, and assembling with my teammates at the end with friendly welcoming captivates me.”
Adapting to a completely new course of running was a challenge for Jiwon. Track and field required focus for a short period of time and the power to bolt for few seconds, whereas cross-country necessitated stamina and determination. She trains diligently in order to pace herself for long distance running and innovate her own strategies.
It wouldn’t have been possible to maintain such a spirit of determination to run without her encouraging teammates to finish such arduous races. The rigorous training sessions, the gasp-for-air-moments, and the “foot-on-fire” episodes, after all, taught Jiwon an important lesson that has been at the core of defining who she is: such sense of support is not merely a “hey-good-job!” encouragement after a race; it is the ultimate motivation and stimulus for her to keep her sneakers on.
All these pivotal experiences she had are definitely not meant for her to earn a reputation at school as an admired runner but to simply make the world for herself. These distinct running tracks of her life, always encircled by the warmth of her fellow teammates, have helped her to reach the end of her running tracks every time, as she is still striving endlessly to accomplish her goals, both on and off the track.
“With such a supportive team here at SIS, I’m definitely going to run not only to fulfill goals for myself, but also for the team as a whole,” Jiwon said. “And I’m always ready to be on the running track.”