Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mom's Challenge Pushed Mullaney; Kenny Standout Achieves Goals after Discovering His Abilities

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mom's Challenge Pushed Mullaney; Kenny Standout Achieves Goals after Discovering His Abilities

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT, The Times-Union

It started with a challenge from mom.

Beth Mullaney was set to run in the 2001 Ortega River Run when she posed the question to her 14-year-old son. Could he run the 5-mile course as fast as she could?

Chris Mullaney not only showed his mom he could keep up with her in that race (he beat her by more than two minutes), but four years later he put the final touches on a successful cross country career at Bishop Kenny with his selection as the Times-Union All-First Coast boys cross country runner of the year.

"I ran the five miles in that [Ortega] race in around 35 minutes, and I had only practiced twice before the race," Mullaney said. "That's when I started thinking that I may be pretty good at running. I had decided to go to Bishop Kenny even though we lived right behind Fletcher High School. Seeing my parents run in some races had made me think about running. That race convinced me to stay with it."

Scott and Beth Mullaney had encouraged, but not pushed, their son to get involved with running.

"I thought he would do pretty good because he's always had a lot of athletic talent," said Beth Mullaney, an accomplished runner and triathlon performer herself. "We simply told Chris to give it a try and see if he liked it. If he didn't, we told him he didn't have to run. But he's very driven."

He's driven to the point that Chris started setting goals upon his arrival at Bishop Kenny.

One day after practice midway through his freshman season, he pointed to a billboard adjacent to the Kenny track, where some of the school's top runners and their times were listed, and told his dad that he wanted to get his name on the board by the time he was a senior. A clocking of 16:20 for 3 miles was required to gain entry onto the board.

"By the end of my freshman year, I was almost there," Mullaney said. "I had lowered my time to 16:35, so I nearly made it my first year. But I didn't have a good sophomore year. …

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