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On April 15, 2019, fourth-year optometry student Shannon Kirchmer accomplished her goal of running in the world’s oldest annual marathon, the Boston Marathon.

Eighteen months ago she ran a personal record of 3:20:25 (a 7:39 mile pace) in the CNO Indianapolis Monumental Marathon — qualifying her for the historic race.

The Charlotte, NC, native said that being a fourth year student made it easier to train for Boston. Students in their fourth year are mostly in the clinic treating patients, so she was able to devote time to recovery and sleep.

“During my peak training weeks, where I was running 50-60 miles, it was very tiring,” she said. “A few weekday runs got up to 12 miles before clinic. It’s true when runners say we run, eat, work, eat, sleep, repeat. When I felt like I was getting too exhausted I implemented an evening alarm to start getting ready for bed. There were many nights when I was asleep by 8pm!”

With her finished time at 3:27:26 Kirchmer requalifies for next year’s Boston Marathon as well (18- to 39- year-old females must have completion times under 3:30 to qualify for the following year).

“I trained to run a much faster race and I’m already looking to sign up for another one,” said Kirchmer.

Kirchmer achieved this goal while maintaining a strong academic standing and being active in extracurricular activities. She holds a 3.59 GPA. Also, she is the student representative to the Board of the Armed Forces Optometric Society (AFOS), treasurer of Gold Key International Optometric Honor Society, and member of American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), National Optometric Student Association (NOSA), and Student Volunteer Optometric Services (SVOSH).