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At age 31, runner captures cross country

Local resident and Bronx Community College student won first place in 2008 CUNY Athletic Conference Cross Country Championship (CUNYAC), on Sunday, October 26, 2008.

Claudette Hetmeyer, age 31, took a long and difficult path to winning first place and becoming the strong role model she is today.

About six years ago, lost and not knowing what to do with her life, Hetmeyer found herself enrolled in the army and stationed in North Carolina.

“I felt like I was searching to be someone and I thought the answer was in the military, like I wasn’t making it here so I wanted to make it there,” recalls Hetmeyer. “It guarantees you a paycheck and security and you and your family receive benefits, it seemed better than being in the civilian world. But I figured out that there is nothing more important than education.”

Hetmeyer decided to return to New York, finding a home in Highbridge, and enrolling in BCC, working towards a degree in engineering science.

Wanting to get back into sports and track, Hetmeyer found that something always prevented her return to running, now with a husband, apartment and two children to care for.

“I was in BCC from 2004, and every time I would pass that track I said I would love to go back on the track team and I made several attempts, but my son was born in 2004,” said Hetmeyer. “I stayed in contact with the coach and would occasionally train, and finally in 2007 I started running, and that year I won first place in the Junior College Competition.”

Hetmeyer takes whatever time she can from her busy schedule to train, always keeping her family and education first priority, but working extra hard to accomplish all her goals and still be a great wife and mother.

“It wasn’t easy, but my husband and I work as a team. When I am not studying or training I am home with them, taking care of them and helping with their school work.”

With the help of coach Gladstone Jones, Hetmeyer came in first in the CUNYAC, a muddy 6-kilometer race held in Van Courtland Park, against over 70 student-athletes from over 13 community and senior colleges, finishing in 25 minutes and 18 seconds.

Hetmeyer continues to hold onto her goals, and hopes to attain a track scholarship to continue her education and engineering degree at a four-year college.

“While training all season I would run those back hills and always end up 3rd or 4th and every week I would make some progress and I always looked forward to the next week. There was a young lady who always beat me, but that day I had it in my mind that she would not catch me,” said Hetmeyer. “If you are physically fit and have the motivation and drive to accomplish your goals you can do it.”

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