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FALL ALL-AREA: Boys Cross Country: In memory of his mom, MacLeod pushed himself

SEE MORE HERE: Cross Country Capsules

Pictured are Megan Rebholz (left) and Ian MacLeod (right), the Cross Country Runners of the Year.

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

THE FREE LANCE–STAR

As the Stafford High School cross country team lined up for a picture following its Group AAA state championship in November 2011, standout Ian MacLeod had something else on his mind.

Ian briefly walked away to give his mother a hug.

Christine MacLeod had battled leukemia for nearly six years at the time, and wasn’t able to attend many of her son’s meets because of the walking involved.

    FALL ALL-AREA TEAMS

    This week, The Free Lance-Star is unveiling our fall high school All-Area teams. Here is the schedule:

    Tuesday: Golf

    TODAY: Cross country

    Thursday: Volleyball

    Friday: Field hockey

    Saturday: Football All-Area team and coach of the year

    Sunday: Football player of the year

But she wasn’t going to miss the state meet, so she attended in a wheelchair.

“We have a picture of him hugging her,” said Ian’s father, Glenn MacLeod. “That was such a special time. He was glad she was able to come out and see the team win a race like that.”

Christine MacLeod lost her 6-year battle with cancer on July 29. She was 50.

Ian’s senior season was set to begin when his mother died. Stafford coach Pete Augrom asked his team leader if he wanted to reassess his goals because of the stress of losing his mother.

“He said, ‘No, I want them to stay the same because I’m doing it for her now,’” Augrom said. “Watching him push as hard as he pushed, it was really great to see.”

Ian set a 5,000-meter school record for the Indians this season (15:29). He was the top Fredericksburg-area finisher when he placed second in the Commonwealth District meet and third at the Northwest Region meet.

His efforts earned him Free Lance–Star cross country runner of the year honors.

“Just having everybody around me and being supportive was enough motivation,” Ian said. “I know one of my best memories was having my mom at the state meet last year. So I found solace in running and used that kind of as motivation.”

Ian was 10 years old when his mother was first diagnosed. He said they always had a close relationship, and athletics was often the subject of conversation. While Glenn MacLeod worked, Christine hauled Ian to Maryland for soccer matches with his travel team.

Ian said his mother and father enjoyed researching the running website milestat .com to see how he stacked up with other athletes.

“When I’d come home, I would tell her how I did and what I could work on,” Ian said. “We were pretty close. It was tough because she wasn’t able to get out of the house a lot with her medications and stuff. She was too tired.”

Ian said his mother’s passing was expected, but still a shock.

Glenn MacLeod said it has made his son a stronger person. He said Ian, the second-oldest of four children, has learned life lessons from losing his mother at such an early age.

“We never wish this on our kids, but Ian is not the only one that’s had to deal with this cross,” Glenn MacLeod said. “He’s really matured through it. I think he’s had to kind of be a leader, as well.

“You can either shut down when these things happen or grow and accept them as a part of life. I think he’s done that. I know he continues to run for her and with her in mind. I think that helps spur him on.”

After Ian’s season ended, he found out he was battling mononucleosis.

Augrom said that was the primary reason he didn’t reach his goal of an all-state finish. Ian finished 21st, six places short of all-state recognition.

Still, that didn’t dampen the season Ian had. He’s now set to run for William & Mary. He said that although his mother won’t see him compete for the Tribe, he finds peace knowing he was able to share with her that he had a college future.

“I do think about that sometimes,” Ian said of his mother never seeing him compete collegiately. “But I got the letter of interest from William & Mary a couple of weeks before she passed. I’m glad she was able to acknowledge that.”

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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