Local runner reflects on experience at World Marathon Majors

Former West Stanly grad Lefler McManus has continued her running journey

(Photo courtesy of Lefler McManus)

For competitive runners, the grind never truly stops.

Former West Stanly track and cross country MVP Lefler McManus has trekked many miles since she began running over a decade ago.

Now a labor and delivery nurse at ECU Health Beaufort Hospital in Washington, NC, the 24-year-old Oakboro native works night shifts but spends a consistent amount of her downtime running and marathon training.

McManus, 24, told SCJ that she started running in 2013 and “hasn’t really stopped since,” usually running four to five times a week.

The fruits of her labor lie are evident in her recent performances in the New York Marathon in November and Boston Marathon in April — two famous entries amidst the six World Marathon Majors.

After making All-State as a Colt runner twice in high school, McManus went on to run track and field at both Tennessee and UNC-Wilmington, where she attended nursing school before moving to Greenville for her career.

“I loved cross country at West Stanly because we bonded so well with one another,” McManus said, reflecting on her high school running days. “We would have pasta parties and different fun events with one another, so we were able to be a team on the course but also outside the course.”

Following years of preparation and training, she ran her first marathon in early 2023 at the Run Oak Island Marathon, fulfilling a dream of hers to cross the finish line of a 26.2 mile journey.

It didn’t take long for McManus to ramp up the stakes for her next chapter.

At the New York Marathon in November, she turned in a time of 3:16:40 and finished with the 401st best time among more than 22,000 women runners. Overall, she finished 17th for her age group and landed in the top 6% of more than 51,000 runners.

“That was so cool because it was my first world major marathon,” McManus said. “I knew kind of what to expect with the crowd support, but it was unreal — there’s really no words to describe how awesome it was. Each city that we ran through had thousands of people lined up on the sides of the street. You’d have kids with their hands hanging out and you’d be giving them high-fives, just feeding off that crowd.”

Her next step was the 128th Boston Marathon on April 15, where she finished with a net time of 3:13:06 — more than 3.5 minutes faster than her New York time.

She placed No. 5,257 overall out of more than 29,000 entrants and in the top 6% (No. 699) among women.

“With the finish line, that stretch right there was incredible,” McManus said. “With the history of the Boston Marathon, with it being America’s oldest marathon or the race with the first woman to run a marathon, it was just so cool because I was surrounded by so many people — not only men but so many women — so accomplishing that goal was just so surreal.”

It was a full-circle moment dating back to 2019, when her family took a road trip up the East Coast and stopped in Boston. Posing for a picture at the finish line then, she remembers telling her family she’d be back there one day to run the marathon.

Five years later, her dream became a reality.

Now that she has two of the world majors in the bag, McManus says she hopes to one day compete in the Chicago, London, Berlin and Japan races.

“With racing itself, not everyone has the ability to run or even to walk, I’m really thankful for that gift that I have and the ability to just get out there and to have a body that’s capable of being pushed to new limits.”