If you were one of the 4,000 or so timed finishers in Thursday’s Thundercloud Turkey Trot, then you might have noticed a slightly built blond-haired young woman who ran 28:05 to win the race.
Her name is Lennie Waite, and she was born in Paisley, Scotland, grew up in Austin, graduated from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School and maintains dual U.K./U.S.A. citizenship. Waite represented Great Britain in the 2016 Summer Olympics in the 3000-meter Steeplechase. She holds a personal best of 9:35.91 in that event, and is the fifth fastest British Steeplechaser of all-time.
A Rice University graduate, Waite is a two-time All-American (mile & steeplechase), an Academic All-American, a top 10 finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award (2009). One of Rice’s all-time great track and field athletes, she set school records in the mile, 1500m and 3000m steeplechase and was a member of seven USA championship teams, and was part of Rice’s NCAA qualifying cross country teams in 2007 and 2008. Waite holds a PhD in Psychology and when she’s not running track, works as a sport psychology consultant and performance specialist.
“I had a good time out at the Turkey Trot,” said Waite, who was looking to win and get a hard effort in on the roads. “I’m getting in some fall base training and it was a great test of my current fitness. It is always such a fun race with a lot of familiar faces. I think I started doing the Turkey Trot back in middle school and I always love being able to race on the roads in Austin. My niece, nephew, husband, sister and brother-in-law all ran, which makes it even more fun: it is pretty rare that we all get to be on the start line together!”
Waite is currently living in Houston, which means she never gets to run on hills, so the Turkey Trot threw her a bit of a challenge.
“I’m a little sore from the course,” admitted Waite, who drove up to Austin on Wednesday night with her dog and husband Matt to spend Thanksgiving with her family.
Currently training at Rice University in Houston with Coach Jim Bevan, who was her coach in college and is the coach for the Rice University women’s track and field and cross-country program, Waite is also helping out at Rice as a volunteer assistant coach, doing some research as an adjunct professor, and working at the leadership institute on campus. She also works as a sport psychology consultant with athletes in the Houston area.
This past August, Waite competed in the steeplechase at the World Championships in London, and then took a couple weeks off of running. Now she is starting to string together some 80-mile weeks in preparation for the track season.
She’s begun mixing high mileage with a couple of workouts each week—she always includes a long run of 15-16 miles each week and spikes up for some sprint work once a week.
“I’ll do some indoor track races in January–everything from the 800 up to the 3,000 meters,” said Waite. “I’m targeting the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April in the 3000m Steeplechase. If all goes to plan, this will be my third Commonwealth Games for Team Scotland. Added Waite, who competed in Delhi in 2010 and Glasgow in 2014.
Upcoming Races: Saturday December 2 at 9:00 a.m., the Fable Fest 5K at 3300 Brushy Creek in Cedar Park. Saturday December 2 at 8:00 a.m., Old Town Rudolph Run 5K at 100 N. Brushy St. in Old Town Leander.