Andre wins marathon in record time
Seven years ago, Stephanie Andre traded smoking for running. On Sunday, she ran the fastest marathon in Oklahoma ever by a woman.
Andre broke the winner’s tape at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and in doing so broke the course and state record by six seconds.
The old record was set in 2012 by Oklahoma City legend Camille Herron, who was cheering for Andre and ringing a cowbell at the finish line as the woman who rarely jogged until seven years ago she completed the 26.2 miles in 2:45:07.
“My heart was pounding watching the clock tick down and cheering her on,” Herron said. “Those moments are really special. I’m just teary-eyed.”
Unlike most elite distance runners, Andre has no collegiate or even high school background in track and field. She didn’t start running until she was 29, inspired to do so because of her sister.
“She led a sedentary lifestyle and she told me one day she was going to run a marathon and I was like ‘sure you are,’” said Andre, who grew up in Bixby.
Andre watched as her sister finished the Route 66 Marathon that year and proved her wrong. Andre’s sister then encouraged her to do the same.
“I was a smoker when I started,” Andre said. “It kind of led me to make a lifestyle change. I just found something that I felt I could really excel at and it just took off.
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“They say you do something every day and it becomes habit and habit becomes lifestyle. (Running) is just kind of what I do now."
In 2012, Andre ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon for the first and only other time before Sunday. That year, Herron set the course and state record for women with a time of 2:45:13. Andre completed the course in 3:57.
“Since then, I have been self-coached,” Andre said. “I just put my nose to the grindstone and taking off time and working my way down to the 2:40s and in 2017 I qualified for the Olympic Trials.
“Those don’t take place until the next year and in the meantime I wanted to find a goal that would keep me motivated and keep me improving since my goal for so long was to qualify for the trials. That is when I set my sights on the state record.”
Andre entered her 19th marathon on Sunday with the intent to break Herron's mark. She met a marathoner from Oklahoma City during the race who helped her do just that.
“I did have a guy to run with,” Andre said. “His name is Jesse Hugo. I had never met him before. We just met on the course. I told him that I was going for 2:45 and so was he. We pretty much stayed together the first 22, 23 miles. That really helped, having someone to run with.”
Andre, 36, said she knew from checking her watch down the homestretch that she would be close to breaking the record.
“I knew it was coming down to the wire and then when I turned the corner and I heard the announcer say one minute," she said. "I saw my watch and just had to dig."
Andre didn’t see Herron cheering her on as she crossed the finish line.
“Camille’s the queen,” Andre said. “She has been a huge inspiration to me. I have really looked up to her.”
Herron said she is happy her record was broken, especially by Andre.
“I said if there was ever a tailwind that somebody would have to go for it,” Herron said. “She was definitely the person to do it. I am proud of her.
“I follow her on Instagram and I have followed the progress she has made the last few years. She has really transformed herself into quite the elite marathoner.”
Andre now will set her sights on qualifying for the Olympic Games.
“You never know,” Andrew said on her chances of running in the Olympics. “If I have learned anything it’s don’t ever count yourself out.”