Just about every weekend from when winter is coming to an end until it is ready to start up again, Marina Orrson can be found running a race.
That also means dozens of weekends each year, Orrson can be found winning a race.
Except when she ventures beyond the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area seeking greater competition or a personal challenge, the 25-year-old from Shavertown has been nearly unbeatable.
“The majority of my races are local,” Orrson said. “But, when I have time I try to get outside the area.”
Orrson last week completed a sweep of the Valley’s Fastest Man/Woman one-mile races that are held on a track at Misericordia University, at Church Street Park in Kingston and at Giant’s Despair. She was the women’s champion of the series, sponsored by Susquehanna River Runners, for the fourth time.
The mile, however, is at the low end of the distances at which Orrson competes.
Orrson was a state medalist cross country runner at Lake-Lehman, finishing 23rd at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships in Hershey in 2008.
High school cross country races are run over 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) courses. While running at Misericordia, Orrson was a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Nationals qualifier in the 10,000-meter run.
Orrson has continued to transition to greater distances since completing her college career. She has also found other ways to stay involved in running as a sport.
“I always wanted to stay involved in the sport somehow,” said Orrson, who has combined her own competitive pursuits with coaching the junior high cross country and track and field teams for the last three years. “(Varsity coach John) Sobocinski approached me about whether I would be willing to start coaching the junior high.
“I’ve enjoyed it since I started coaching. It keeps me involved with the sport.”
Orrson acknowledges that career demands or beginning a family could eventually alter her commitment to running or at least cut into the number of races she is able to enter each year.
“I would like to stay competitive as long as possible,” she said. “I know with life, that gets hard sometimes.
“I’ll keep running as much as I can.”
Orrson said she is at the point where half marathons could arguably be her strongest distance.
Proceeding from 13.1 miles to the full marathon distance of 26.2, however, has been difficult.
Orrson has completed all three of her marathons. She used the Chasing the Unicorn Marathon in Washingtons Crossing to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which she ran for the first time in April. Before that she ran in the New York City Marathon.
Up next on the marathon schedule is Mount Desert Island Marathon in Bar Harbor, Maine Oct. 16. Orrson would like to run in the Steamtown Marathon in the next few years and wants to trim the six minutes off her marathon time to break the three-hour barrier.
“To do that, I have to focus on some hydration issues I have when running,” said Orrson, who has had troubles at the half marathon level and moreso in her limited marathon experience.
More than the usual wear-and-tear from distance running, Orrson became sick while completing the New York Marathon and soon after making it to the finish line in Boston.
“I’ve been talking to some local runners that I know run the long stuff,” said Orrson, who has also consulted with her physician, trying to solve the balance of replacing fluids and salt lost over the course of a 26-mile run. “This has been an ongoing problem. I pretty much talk to anybody who will talk to me about it, asking them what they think it might be.”