By Clara Ruth West

Rebecca and Rachel McNitt share more than just a last name. They both have a passion for personal fitness and have spent the past three months training together for the Bearathon – “the toughest half marathon in Texas.”

They first heard about the Bearathon as freshmen, and told themselves they were going to run it the next year. In an effort to avoid the “freshman 15” and stay in shape, they signed up and started their training in January, just about three months before race day.

Though they are both naturally athletic and were trained as gymnasts throughout their childhood, they were not runners. They only had experience with high-intensity short distances, so the long-distance marathon forced them train differently than they had before.

Since this is their second year preparing for the race, they have perfected their training routine.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday: D1 Sports Training for circuit, HIIT and strength workouts

Tuesday, Thursday: Short 3-5 mile runs

Saturday: Long distance runs (5-11 miles, increasing the distance each week)

Sundays: Rest

While Rebecca had trained for a half marathon when she was in high school, this was Rachel’s first exposure to training and running.

Rachel’s biggest fear going into the race was that she didn’t know what to expect. She was covered with nerves leading up to the race, and when she picked up her runner packet the day before, she panicked to herself, “I’m running this tomorrow!”

Rebecca, on the other hand, knew what to expect with a half marathon, but was anxious to run with someone else. She and Rachel had trained together, but she was nervous about pacing herself and staying in sync.

When I asked the sisters what they thought was the hardest part of the race, they answered in unison: “Cameron Park! You have to run up the hills, and they’re steep.” They hadn’t prepared for the incline change during their initial training, so the hills caught the sisters by surprise, forcing them to adjust their technique.

Rebecca added, “We heard there were hills, but it’s Texas. There aren’t hills. But no, those were hills.” From that experience, they were better able to prepare for what to expect this year.

With the race just days away, they’re focusing on giving their bodies plenty of rest. They plan to run six miles the weekend before and one run during the week. Additionally, they are making adjustments to their diet by consuming plenty of protein and staying hydrated. Like most runners, they plan on rewarding themselves with pizza and ice cream after the race.

The coolest part is that the twin sisters chose to train and compete together. Not only have they pushed each other during the training process, but they’ll also be side by side to cheer each other on during the race. What started as a way to stay in shape and avoid the “freshman 15” has turned into a way to spend quality time together (even when the hills get the best of them) and celebrate their victories!Their goal for this year is to cross the finish line. They have their times from last year, and they’re aiming to stay close to those times again, but finishing is still their number one priority. They plan to go with the flow and listen to their bodies.

The sisters are most excited about the feeling after finishing the race.

“I love the feeling of accomplishment,” Rachel said. “That feeling, being proud of what you did, it’s awesome.”

“There’s so much race day adrenaline,” Rebecca added. “It’s just so exciting being around everyone. They’re all motivating each other, and I really like that.”

In addition to the physical commitment, the sisters are also keeping each other motivated mentally.   

“I don’t think I could do it by myself,” Rachel said. “It’s definitely good to have an accountability partner who pushes me to do it.”

The Bearathon is Saturday, March 24. Registration is still open, so there’s time to join Rebecca and Rachel in the “toughest half in Texas!”

Registration for the 2018 Bearathon is still open and can be completed here. Baylor students can register for $60 and general registration is currently $90.