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Macumber off to racing start after injury-plagued 2011 season

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Cally Macumber has finished in the top two in each of the Wildcats' first three meets, including a first place finish at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational. (UK Athletics) Cally Macumber has finished in the top two in each of the Wildcats' first three meets, including a first place finish at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational. (UK Athletics)
Everyone has a hobby that they love doing in their spare time. Growing up, you have all the time in the world to play the sport you love or participate in activities that interest you. As you grow older, your time for hobbies dwindles due to the real world and the working life.

Not everyone has a chance to continue balancing their lives with work and personal time. University of Kentucky cross country runner Cally Macumber is a rare breed that has taken full advantage of her talents to continue doing what she loves.

Run.

"I just always run," Macumber said. "I started running in third grade so it's just a part of me."

Macumber is off to an excellent start in her junior season, placing in the top two in the Wildcats' first three meets, including a first-place finish at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational on Sept. 22. After claiming second at the Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic, Macumber was named the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Week.

The year has been a successful one thus far for Macumber and possibly even more successful than she may have thought.

"I was pleasantly surprised, not running for so long," Macumber said. "I was happy with it and it gives me some confidence heading forward. It felt good being named athlete of the week, because there are some great athletes in the conference. I got the award my freshman season but it's always exciting."

However, not everything has come so easy for the native of Rochester Hills, Mich. Last season, Macumber was forced to miss the entire season due to an injury. During the offseason of 2011, she suffered from iliotibial band syndrome, which is a frequent injury for runners and affects the knees.

Macumber took a break in the offseason and decided to try her luck once she returned to school, but her right knee was still bothering her and it started to affect her back as well. She was forced to take a medical redshirt and watch from the sidelines.

This was a tough year for Macumber and she quickly realized how much of a blessing it is to be healthy and out there competing.

"I didn't like sitting on the sidelines watching and realizing how lucky you have it when you're healthy," Macumber said. "It definitely made me more excited to start training again."

Being from Michigan, Macumber made her way down to the Bluegrass state and the cross country team has benefitted tremendously from her presence. Macumber's parents pushed her to take a visit to UK and she loved every bit of the university.

This season, the track and field/cross country program has experienced a change of direction as first-year head coach Edrick Floreal has taken over the team. Floreal brought with him Hakon DeVries, who is in charge of the women's distance runners.

The beginning of the season was a reminiscent of freshman year as the athletes went through a new set of coaches all over again.

Macumber admits the change brought on some nerves, but everything is working out for the better. The coaches have brought a new system to UK and are implementing new drills that are bringing about signs of progress.

"Change scares me but everyone was so nice and they are really good coaches," Macumber said. "We have been doing new things and they have really helped. We do doubles now so we run twice a day, a couple times a week. We do strengthening, hurdle drills, speed drills and long runs on Sundays."

The Wildcats will run in their final regular season meet this Saturday in Pre-Nationals at the same course where Macumber finished second just two weeks prior. This weekend will be a 6k event as opposed to a 5k two weeks ago but Macumber admits it does help being familiar with the course, having run on it previously.

This weekend is the final meet before the SEC Championships on Oct. 26 in Nashville, Tenn. As the postseason quickly approaches, Macumber has goals for the team and is confident they will be ready to compete and make an impact to conclude the year.

"We are just trying to get better every time out and hopefully we make it to nationals," Macumber said. "That's the ultimate goal and just trying to do as best as we can. At the SEC's we want to try and finish higher than we ever have and I think we can do it."

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