Cougar of the Week: Rachel Donnelly


Flickr User JK

Rachel Donnelly wants to study medicine in Latin America

Steven Castiglione , Scarlet Staff

Rachel Donnelly (‘18) of Monsey, N.Y. is a chemistry and international development and social change major on a pre-health track for Clark Women’s Cross Country. She went from being one of the younger runner last season to being a junior leader on a very young team this season. She sat down with The Scarlet to talk about her struggles this season, spending time in South America, and socks.

Scarlet: How has the season been going for you?
Donnelly: Not very good, since I have issues with ragweed allergies. My throat closes up during practices and meets, but other than that I have been accomplishing all my goals thus far. Over the summer I trained for a 10k and a half marathon. I feel in a way I burned myself out in the summer. I am getting back in the swing of things, which I’m still getting used to. Hopefully the cold weather will alleviate my allergies. Besides that, I am having a great time with my teammates and I am loving every minute of it.

Scarlet: Last Friday was the Worcester City Championship in Paxton. How did the race go for the team?
Donnelly: Really good; we placed third out of the five teams there. We had two people in the top ten, which is a huge accomplishment. For me, the race was very difficult. My allergies were really bad and I have a very busy and stressful semester. Halfway through the race my only goal was to finish; I didn’t care about the time.

Scarlet: What is the team dynamic like this year since nearly half the team’s runners are first-years?
Donnelly: They are integrating very nicely. The first-years bring a very spunky dynamic to the team. We have a group chat and most of our communication is through GIFs. The first race was less than a four-minute split for all the girls to finish. Last year it was a five to six-minute split.

Scarlet: How well do you feel the women’s cross country team is represented in the Clark community?
Donnelly: I feel like we are not in the community. I would love to see more representation of cross country, but our sport is harder to go out and see, especially in an urban area.

Scarlet: A lot of people don’t fully understand how much work goes into your preseason. Can you explain?
Donnelly: Basically, more long-distance running at a slower pace, four days a week you do seven or eight mile run at a comfortable talking pace, five miles twice a week at tempo – tempo should be a minute less than your 5k pace. We are expected in preseason to run fifty to sixty miles a week, and during season we run 25 to 35. We increase the amount of intervals during the week and as the season progresses.

Scarlet: I understand a few runners take pride in wearing fashionable socks. In your opinion, who has the coolest socks on the team this year, thus far?
Donnelly: Thus far I’d say that Maddy Doyle (‘19) has the coolest socks, she has a variety of really interesting socks. So far it’s a competition between Maddy and Kristen [Glennie (‘18)] but Camille [Bales (‘19)] is stepping up to the plate.

Scarlet: Do you have any pregame rituals or habits you do before the meets?
Donnelly: I always wear compression calf socks to bed, and I always drain the lactic acid out of my legs and try to meditate to go in the race with a clear mind and body.

Scarlet: What have you found most rewarding running at Clark?
Donnelly: The friendships I’ve made with people and on the team. It’s really weird to understand, but the people on the team have a love for running just as much as I, and the passion that goes with it.


Scarlet: What has been your favorite course so far?
Donnelly: Connecticut College. The course starts in an open field and then you run right up against the water. That was our NCAA course so it has a lot of importance to me.

Scarlet: Do you have any noteworthy hidden talents or hobbies?
Donnelly: I like drawing a lot and listening to music. I memorize lyrics really well. Drawing helps me be creative, zone out, and use a different part of my brain.

Scarlet: I recently learned that you have spent time in a few South American countries. How has that been?

Donnelly: I love being in Argentina and Chile. The culture is very welcoming, people interact on a much more personal level with their peers. I really want to study medicine in Latin America, it’s a very different way of life there. It is a really rewarding experience.

Scarlet: If you were trapped in a haunted house, who would you want to be trapped with from your team?
Donnelly: Probably Maddy, because nothing phases her, and I think she would some how lighten the mood of being a scary place.
Thanks for the interview, Rachel!