Back in the summer of 2015, Charlotte Bednar was attending a camp in Maine when everyone in her cabin decided to hop in a 5K race.
Bednar, just a fifth-grader back then, was the first female to cross the line.
A star had been born.
"I had so much fun and success that I decided to keep running,'' said Bednar.
Ever since then, Bednar has been routinely crossing finish lines first as she rapidly developed into one of the nation's best distance running stars.
Along her amazing running journey, Bednar dropped huge PR's on the track and in XC, including a stunning NJ record 17:21 at Holmdel Park last fall, and has smashed numerous records while evolving into a NJ distance running legend.
Bednar added to her legacy of greatness last Saturday with one of the most remarkable performance in state history when the junior at Lawrenceville sliced nearly 30 seconds off her PR and became just the ninth girl in U.S. high school history to go under 16 minutes in a 5K with a red hot and US #5 all-time 15:52.10 at the GSTC Spring Opener in Edison.
The 15:52.10 smashed Bednar's NJ record of 16:21.67 that she at Icahn Stadium this past October.
The only girls in U.S. high school history to run faster outdoors than Bednar are Jenna Hutchins with her 15:34.47 from this past December, Mary Cain (15:45.46), Emily Sisson (15:48.91), and Cayla Hatton (15:50.32).
NJ MileSpilt recently caught up with Bednar for a Q and A. Bednar talked about how shocked she was by her sub 16, her goals, her training, and a whole lot more.
So, kick back and enjoy our latest installment of Feature Friday as we shine the spotlight on Lawrenceville junior Charlotte Bednar, one of the most humble superstars in our sport.
NJM: What are your thoughts on the remarkable 15:52 you ran last Saturday? Were you surprised by how fast you ran or did you feel like a time like that was coming?
I am super excited about my performance. I surprised myself by breaking 16. Going into the race I wanted to see what I could do and my fitness level. I hoped to get a new PR but did not know I was ready to break 16.
Your time was nearly a 30 second drop off your PR. What do you feel was the biggest reason for the big PR? Have you been doing different workouts in training to help you go sub 16?
I have continued with my usual workouts but have also added in more strength training and cross training which has helped. My coaches at Lawrenceville, Erik and Katie Chaput, create plans for me as well.
How does it feel to be the fifth fastest 5K runner in U.S. high school history? What does that mean to you, Charlotte.
It is an incredible feeling to share a spot on this list with these top runners. I am grateful to be included and hope to continue to grow and improve as a runner.
Tell me about the biggest goals you have for the rest of this season? How about long-term goals, Charlotte? What are your biggest goals as a track and field/XC athlete for your high school career and beyond? Are you the kind of athlete that looks like what Jenna Hutchins did with her 15:34 and use that as motivation to push yourself to try to keep running faster?
For the rest of the season, I would love to improve my two mile and mile times. As far as long term, my goals include continuing to train and improve as well as stay healthy so I can be successful in college and post-college. My main motivation is the enjoyment I get from running and being part of the track & field community.
When is your next race and what will you be running, and what's your goal for that race?
I am looking at schedules now to plan for my next race. I hope to get a two mile and one mile in soon!
What are your plans for this spring season? Will you be running just for your team at Lawrenceville, or with the Garden State Track Club, or will you be running for both during the course of the season?
Due to the current pandemic, we have restrictions on our school campus. I have been working with Coach Chaput to see which races work best. Therefore, my schedule is uncertain at the moment.
What is your training like now? How many miles a week are you running and what kind of track workouts are you doing?
I am running around 50 miles per week with a few workouts that are either repeats, speed work, or tempos.
What's your favorite track workout to do?
My favorite track workout is mile repeats.
Can you tell me how, when, and why you first got involved in running?
I first got involved in running while I was away at a summer camp in Maine where my cabin and I participated in a 5k. I had so much fun and success that I decided to keep running.
You've obviously had so many great performances and great moments in your running career so far. The 15:52, the NJ course record at Holmdel, and multiple All-America finishes at National Championship meets. Which performance of all of your great ones means the most to you? The performance you are most proud of and why?
I am most proud of my performances at NXN. This meet is always so much fun and I love meeting all of the amazing high school athletes. Every year, I have felt great during this event. I have surprised myself each time I crossed the finish line with my placement among the elite field of athletes.
When would you say you had your first huge breakthrough moment when you realized you could be a XC/great distance runner?
Freshman year, when I broke 18 in the 5k and finished 12th at NXN I realized that I had the potential to be a great distance runner.
What do you love the most about being a distance runner?
I love running in different places and all there is to see outside. The other day, I saw a fox chasing a squirrel. One of my favorite ways to explore new locations is putting on my running shoes and seeing the many different sites on foot.
What do you consider your greatest strength as a distance runner?
I think my greatest strength is my endurance. I am able to keep going without feeling too tired.
What's your favorite race to run and why?
My favorite race is the 5k because it is a good ratio between speed and endurance.
Who is your favorite college/pro track athlete to watch and why? And what have you learned from watching them?
I like many of them, so it is difficult to choose. I would say Shalane Flanagan. It was an honor to meet her at Nike Cross Nationals. She has some incredible times in the 5K, which I have an appreciation for. I also love her nutrition tips!
What type of things do you like to do when you're not practicing, racing, or doing schoolwork? Have any hobbies or are you involved in any other sports or clubs/activities at school?
I enjoy playing lacrosse, hiking, biking, and tennis. Recently, I started volunteering as a tutor for Homefront which has been a great experience. In the summer, I love to swim, especially in the ocean. One of my favorite summer events is Swim Across America.