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The youngest competitor in the N.C. USATF 5K championship race on Saturday night in Winston-Salem is just 15 years old.
Anna, who attends Calvary Day School, is the subject of today's Runners Q&A.
RS: Outside of your school track schedule, what competitions have you participated in during the spring and summer?
Edwards: "I just came off a two-week break after track season. I did adidas Nationals in Greensboro (June 16-18) and ran the 5K. It went pretty good. I was third (18:19.06), so it was OK. I would like to have run a little bit faster, but I was just getting tired at the entire season."
RS: When you've raced against adults, when you're outside of your school events, how have you been received?
Edwards: "Everybody is super-encouraging and welcoming, especially older runners that have more experience."
Family members: Mother, Nancy; father, Adam; brother, Brayden, 11.
Education: Rising sophomore at Calvary Day School, Winston-Salem.
Sports: Cross country, track and field. Also has participated in gymnastics and horseback riding before focusing on running.
Why she runs: "I like to see how fast I can get and how much I can progress. The excitement of getting a PR, having a good race. And just being with my teammates and the whole running community is just really fun."
Coach: Brandon Hudgins, High Point Athletic Club.
Superlatives: 5K PR is 18:19.06 (June). At the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association state meet in May, Edwards placed second in the 1,600 (5:06.94; her PR is 5:02), second in the 3,200 (10:54.95) and sixth in the 800 (2:27.99).
N.C. USATF 5K championship race at Beat the Heat 5K: The elite race, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, will be Edwards' third. She ran a 19:05.45 in 2022 and a 19:19.09 in 2021.
RS: How has your coach, Brandon Hudgins, helped you become a stronger or faster runner, or both?
Edwards: "He's just been amazing. I've been working with him for a year now, because it was last year right after Beat the Heat. He's really helped me get stronger, and I've been doing a lot more strength training. We're focusing on pretty low mileage right now because I've still got a long way to go through high school and college, if that's what I want to do. And we just want to keep me liking to run. I'm still really young, and I still have a lot of time to get faster."
RS: How does training with him work?
Edwards: "Usually he just sends my workouts or runs for the week on a calendar, and occasionally I will go over and do a track workout with him. Right now we're doing summer cross country practices, so I run with my cross country team for school. That's been good."
RS: What sorts of things are you interested in, in terms of academics or what you like to do when you're not running?
Edwards: "I don't really know (laughs). I don't really have any hobbies. I guess just going to the pool or just hanging out, doing summer stuff."
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RS: Who in running has been your biggest inspiration?
Edwards: "All of my past coaches and older runners that are faster. Past teammates I've had that've just really helped me and inspired me to get faster. And especially my coach. He broke the four-minute mile and had a battle with a really rare disease (vasculitis) before that. That really inspired me to keep going and get faster."
RS: Do you have a favorite runner?
Edwards: "I like N.C. State, so probably Katelyn Tuohy. I haven't met her, but I've seen her run. She's just really inspiring, and she has broken so many records. She's been really consistent throughout her running career, continuing to get faster and be at the top of her competition."
RS: What has been your experience of racing in the state 5K championship against some of the fastest runners in North Carolina?
Edwards: "It's just been really cool to see just how fast they are, and just to be able to be on the start line with them is really cool."
RS: Two years ago, you were on the starting line with them for the first time. Any nerves?
Edwards: "I was really nervous the first year because I just didn't know how it would work out, but I ended up doing pretty good."
RS: How much easier was it to race against them last year after having done it one time?
Edwards: "I still get nervous before all races, but it was definitely a lot less."
RS: What will be a successful race for you on Saturday night?
Edwards: "I just want to have fun. The summer's kind of a break from super-competitive racing in track and cross country. I'm just going to go and do my best. I'm obviously going to try my hardest, but I'm going to try to have fun. If I don't run amazing, it's OK."