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Class 12 Student Heidi Freking to Run in Boston Marathon for The Play Brigade


The Boston Marathon is a challenging course for any runner (just ask anyone who’s battled Heartbreak Hill), but Dexter Southfield student Heidi Freking ’18 is up to that challenge. She says part of her motivation is the amazing organization for which she’ll be running. Heidi will run this year’s Boston Marathon representing The Play Brigade, a nonprofit organization committed to creating inclusive opportunities in play, recreation, and sports, so everyone can participate and belong.

Dexter Southfield parent Dawn Oates P ’28 ’28’ 30 is the founder and president of The Play Brigade. She was inspired by her daughter, Harper ’30, who uses a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury she suffered at birth. The foundation also formed after recognizing the lack of activities they could do together as a family.

Heidi volunteered with The Play Brigade during their all-inclusive 5k race in October, and really enjoyed her first season running with Dexter Southfield’s cross country team last fall. “After volunteering at their 5k and meeting Harper, I thought it would be a great opportunity to run for the team,” she said. “I got in touch with Dawn and instantly wanted to become more involved.” She noted that inclusion and a strong community are important aspects of both Dexter Southfield and The Play Brigade.

This year’s team consists of seven runners, including Heidi. They have group runs every Saturday. “Last Saturday we ran for 14 miles and we will soon get up to 20 miles.”

Balancing training for the 26.2-mile race with schoolwork has proved itself a challenge. “I am not able to train as much during the school week, but I do manage a to run five to eight miles every three days.”

Since starting her training, she’s realized the importance of properly pacing herself and has learned to start runs slower to avoid burning out mid-race. She has also become more mindful of nutrition and understands that both her training and diet go hand-in-hand for success.

Heidi’s mother, Julie Miller, teaches Class 2 girls at Dexter Southfield. “I love working with the lower school students and really believe in The Play Brigade’s mission of giving all children the same opportunity to play. I have often spent my free periods visiting the girls to support inclusion and have spoken to the upper school students about The Play Brigade.”

We are so proud of all your hard work so far and wish you good luck and continued success, Heidi. We’ll be cheering for you on Marathon Monday!

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