Valencia High School senior Ayden Buchanan was nervous heading into the Santa Clarita Marathon last weekend.
But once he got to the starting line, he just let his body do what it knows best: run.
Buchanan ran and ran, ultimately completing the marathon in 2:50:21, seven seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, Uriel Rodriguez. That time was good enough to qualify Buchanan for the 2025 Boston Marathon, as the Santa Clarita race was run after the regular qualifying window for the 2024 Boston race had already closed.
“My goal pace was around 5:50 (per mile), just trying to hold on to that pace,” Buchanan said. “Around mile 10, I was getting a little bit tired, and then I came around the 13-mile turnaround to do the last lap of the race, and I knew I had a good lead and I didn’t think anyone was going to catch me. So, I just kind of cruised to get that qualification time.”
In order to compete in the 2024 Boston Marathon this coming April rather than the 2025 race, Buchanan must run for a Boston Athletic Association charity. He has been in contact with charities for months and has currently raised $6,500 of the $10,000 needed, with the World Central Kitchen being the charity that he is looking to represent, according to his dad, Michael.
The 2024 Boston Marathon could be the last chance Ayden has to compete in the historic race until he graduates from college, according to Michael, who added that Ayden’s qualifying time, while outside the qualifying date window, was needed to ensure that a charity would accept him.
Ayden, who ran at a 6:30 pace in the Santa Clarita Marathon, has run for Valencia’s cross country team in the past but chose to sit out this season to have more time to prepare for the marathon. He said he was running 10 miles per day in the leadup to the Santa Clarita Marathon, using Heritage Park, the location of the marathon, as his training course.
That, Ayden said, is about 20 miles more per week than he would normally do when training for the 5K races that he would typically compete in.
“I had about two or three months of training for this race,” Ayden said. “So, I haven’t had a lot of time, but I was able to really just get a solid training block in and get the time down.”
To get himself even more prepared, Ayden said he competed in two half-marathons and a 5K, winning all three. He said it was his goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Now that he’s done so, his training will resume at a more feverish pace, though not right away. Ayden said he’s planning to compete in indoor track and field events — the 1600, 3200 and 5K races — during the winter season before going back to longer-distance training.
The training for Boston will see Ayden run through more hills as he’s heard the Boston course is anything but flat.
“Boston is a really hilly course,” Ayden said. “It starts downhill but goes uphill for the rest of the course … The course for Santa Clarita was decently hilly, but I heard Boston’s a whole other beast.”
Once the indoor track season ends, Ayden said he plans to run closer to 80 miles per week, or 8 miles per day. He said he’s looking forward to seeing what the Boston Marathon is like, having heard great things about both the race and the city, which he will be visiting for the first time.
“I can imagine the atmosphere will be insane,” Ayden said. “I’ve heard fairly good things about the marathon. The people who live there all come out of their houses to cheer everyone on, to make sure everyone’s having a fun race and giving it their best. I definitely think it’s gonna be a very exciting and scenic run.”
The son of a college track runner, Ayden said he’s planning to run cross country in college. His dream school, he said, is the United States Naval Academy.
“I think that it’s definitely a good fit for me there, and I love their team, their campus,” Ayden said. “Just everything about it is something I like.”
Other schools on his list are Pepperdine University, Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and the University of Miami, as well as some other schools in Florida.
Upon completing the Santa Clarita Marathon, Ayden gave his dad a hug after not just finishing his first marathon, but winning it.
“I told him that that I have a new respect for marathon runners, because it’s just brutal,” Ayden said. “It’s very tough to complete 26 miles. Even if you’re just a regular runner, 26 miles just to complete it is an accomplishment.”
To help Ayden reach his charity fundraising goal, email him at [email protected]. The Boston Marathon is set to be held on April 15, 2024.
For the full list of results from the Santa Clarita Marathon, visit tinyurl.com/mv68vyks.