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Enjoy Magazine

Run With It - Bryce Lighthall

11/01/2006 11:33AM ● By Brandi Barnett
By Teresa Wilson

Bryce Lighthall attributes much of his success as a competitive runner to his determination and rigorous training. A native of the Redding area, Lighthall began competitive running while a student at Enterprise High School. Since then, he moved on to California State University at Fullerton where he continued to hone his skills as a star athlete.

“Some people are born with talent and may not have to work as hard. I have to work extra hard to make up for what I lack in natural ability,” said Lighthall, 25.

Given his exemplary track record and dedication to the sport, Lighthall has been pounding the pavement making a name for himself in the running circuit.With his lifelong goal to qualify for the Olympic trials, Lighthall is well on his way to making that dream a reality.

For the past five years, Lighthall has run in the local Turkey Trot at Caldwell Park in Redding on Thanksgiving Day.He has won every time he’s entered the six-mile race. Last year, Lighthall won with a finishing time of 30 minutes, 51 seconds. Despite his love for the Redding area and its local traditions, Lighthall will reluctantly forgo future Turkey Trots in his attempt to train for the
Olympic Trials.

“To make the Olympic team is extremely difficult,” Lighthall said, “Only three people from every event in every country make it. They are the elite of the elite,” he added.

In preparation for the Olympic Trials, Lighthall is scheduled to take a month off from work to attend the High Altitude Training facility in Flagstaff, Arizona. Olympic hopefuls from around the world have maximized their abilities through intense training programs at the facility with altitudes of about 7,000 feet. e body must work significantly harder when training at a high altitude and this challenging environment will springboard Lighthall to a fitness level optimal for the trials.

“I will be able to retire [from competitive running] happily when I make it to the Olympic trials,” said Lighthall.

An ambitious and very busy young man, Lighthall holds three jobs in addition to his meticulous training schedule.

The average day for Lighthall begins at 6 a.m. with about a 12-mile run.Then he’s off to his first job where he works full-time as a one-on-one aide for a student who has high-functioning autism. Lighthall says his student is at or above his grade level and since working with him, has determined this is the field in which he wants to focus. “I cherish everyday that I get to be a part of someone’s life,” said Lighthall.

Lighthall rounds out his afternoons with another 12- to 16-mile run. During an average week, Lighthall runs about 100 miles. In addition to competitive running and working with autistic children as an aide and private tutor, Lighthall co-coaches the Salt Line Track Club inWoodside, California.

Lighthall is also a member of the Adidas Transports, a postcollegiate running club that assists runners in developing their athletic abilities after college.

With his focus on running and working with autistic children, Lighthall has plans to return to school at San Jose State University to obtain his masters degree in occupational therapy.Having received his bachelor’s degree in history from California State University at Fullerton, Lighthall has shifted his career focus to a degree that will enable him to continue working with autistic children.

“I believe that Redding has had a tremendous effect on how my personality has been shaped,” said Lighthall. “Many people have a hard time leaving Redding, because it is such a great place. I believe that I am making other places in California better because of my unique upbringing in such a special place,” he added.

Lighthall said it was ingrained in him early on to work with special needs children. His mother, Kandis Lighthall, is a partner in Autism and Behavior Training Associates based in Woodland, California. Having witnessed his mother’s success in working with autistic children, Lighthall now has the opportunity to follow in her footsteps.

"I really feel that I can pour my heart into both and not sacrifice either,” said Lighthall.

While Lighthall doesn’t anticipate making it to the Olympic team, qualifying for the Olympic Trials is more than he can ask for and a major life accomplishment.He continues to train hard to be the best runner he possibly can.The Olympic trials will be held in November 2008, one day before the New York Marathon.

November 2006