Stacey Sperry enjoys running distance races.
And it’s likely the students at Prairie Star Middle School in Leawood don’t know that their assistant principal is an accomplished distance runner.
Sperry just completed her second year at Prairie Star after teaching English Language Arts in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades in another district.
She got her start in long distance racing almost by chance.
“One of my friends was training for a marathon, so I decided to help her with her training,” says Sperry. “I decided on the days that I ran, I felt better, so I just kept running.”
The Panther assistant principal continues to enjoying running.
“I run four days a week and do Pilates on the other days,” she says. “I love to run because it makes me a happier person.”
Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th Century.
Sperry has run several marathons, including the 2013 Boston Marathon that was bombed by terrorists. She has a lot of vivid memories of that day in April at her first Boston Marathon.
“It is something I will never forget,” she says. “It was a beautiful day, perfect for running. As a runner, Boston is as good as it gets. As we were getting ready to start, I was overcome with emotion; that my dreams as a runner were becoming a reality,” she says.
She remembers finishing the race.
“Your first Boston is overwhelming, in a great way,” says Sperry. “I will never forget turning onto Boylston where there is flag from every country waving with pride as you coast to the finish line. There had to be close a million people there. At least it felt that way. I finished and was so happy that the race was over and that I re-qualified for the following year.”
Then things changed.
“As I made my way to the friends and family is where everything changed,” she remembers. “We heard what sounded like fireworks. I assumed the Red Sox game was over, nothing to worry about; then we heard another.
“That is when I felt in my gut something was really wrong. We started hearing sirens, people with empty wheelchairs starting running back towards the finish line. I checked my phone and it was not working. At that moment I knew that something was really wrong.”
Sperry ran again in the 2014 Boston Marathon.
“It was a great race,” she says. “I have never seen so many people in support of a race; it was really emotional in quite a different way. The city of Boston was ready to show that they were really Boston Strong.”
Her best marathon time is 3-hours and 34-minutes, while her half marathon best is 1:34.
What is her secret of running success?
“I don’t know if I have a secret,” says Sperry. “I just love to run. It is my time to think, believe and dream. It is my only uninterrupted time of the day. I love it.”
Sperry was not a runner in high school, but she played soccer at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita. She did run in middle school.
The Panther assistant principal recently completed the Heartland 39.3 Series; a series of three half-marathons in two months that adds up to 39.3 miles. The races were all in the Kansas City area.
At the present time she is only runner in her family.
“I’m holding out hope that my little boys will be runners someday.”