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Area marathon runner heads to Olympic trials

Nichole Porath is a unique athlete. Porath is an elite marathon runner but she is also a full-time financial analyst for Red Wing Shoes.

To show its support for Porath as she competes today at the 2012 Olympic Trials in Houston, Red Wing Shoes decided to send Porath and her family south in style.

"We thought it would be exciting for her and her family, and to show our support as a company, to send her and her family down on the company plane," said David Murphy, president of Red Wing Shoes. "All the employees are excited and have been sending her emails. We're all feeling proud of her and excited."

Murphy said he suggested the idea months ago and all of Porath's coworkers were on board with the idea. He joked about Porath getting to use Red Wing Shoes' new private jet before he had.

"We all think it's pretty fun," he said. "We just traded in our old plane for the new one ... I haven't even been on the new plane. She's been on it before me."

Murphy said he wished he could have made the trip to see her run.

"I was disappointed I couldn't go," he said. "I'm anxious to talk to her when she gets back."

Maintaining a full-time job while also running upwards of 100 miles in a week is no easy task but Red Wing Shoes wanted to help from the beginning. Her boss, Chris Gullickson, and her financial group were willing to help out to free Porath to get her training done.

"I think everybody has chipped in," Murphy said. "I certainly haven't seen any slippage in her ability to get work done. We love having her as an employee."

In her blog, Porath talks about the privilege of working for Red Wing Shoes as she tackles her running goals; including giving her longer lunch breaks and allowing her the freedom to get miles in when needed.

"One of the coolest things about working for Red Wing Shoe has been how supportive they have been of my training for the trials," Porath wrote. "I'm blessed to work for them. I'm also blessed that they understand running and marathoning."

Porath qualified for the Olympic trials at the Grandma's Marathon June 18 in Duluth with a time of 2 hours, 44 minutes, 46 seconds. Going into competition today, she is ranked 140th of 196 runners.

Murphy said it is exciting to work with people like Porath. It brings a certain sense of novelty to the job.

"I love working with people like that," he said. "I feel like I'm surrounded by stars."

The women's competition begins today at 8:15 a.m. and NBC will televise the race from 3-5 p.m.

Chris Harrell
Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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