Author: Marshall Green
Date: September 4, 2012
Categories: Alumni|Athletics

Houghton College graduate Danielle Brenon '12 has accepted a sponsorship to run for the prestigious marathon athlete training organization, Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. 

Brenon graduated from Houghton this past spring with degrees in biology and communication.  As a college athlete, Brenon specialized in distance running, which earned this six-time NAIA All-American a finalist spot for the Jack Tupper Daniels Award, given by the Niagara Track & Field Hall of Fame.  She also is the 2012 NAIA National Champion in the marathon, 2012 NCCAA National Champion in both 10K and 5K, and the 2012 NAIA National Runner-up in the 10K.  She was recognized for her work in the classroom when she was named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America® College Division First Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

“This opportunity to run for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project took me by surprise, and truly represents a dream that I never knew I had. Now that it’s a reality, I am ready to test my limits and see just how far I can go”, said Brenon.

The Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, a partnership with Brooks® Running, is based in Rochester, Michigan, and is one of the premier running programs in the country.

“We are so happy to see Danielle have the opportunity to professionally continue to pursue her dreams.  She has worked extremely hard as a student and athlete for four years to get to where she is, and the work has paid off.  Her story is one of hard work, dedication, perseverance, balance and focus,” said Matt Dougherty, head coach of cross country and track and field.  “She has been a tremendous example of pursuing Christ in every aspect of her life, and using what God-given talent she has to honor him.”

The training approach in the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project incorporates the following four principles: Create an opportunity for successful college athletes to continue training beyond their college years; provide an environment in which training can be the focus of those post-collegiate athletes (without the financial necessity of working full time or chasing after money in road races); develop a center for those athletes to train together as a team; and  incorporate the team members in local community activities to foster an excitement in the sport of distance running and motivate future distance runners.

When extending the invitation to Danielle to join the Hanson-Brooks team, owner Kevin Hanson wrote, “Your work ethic and desire to explore your limits as an athlete make you a perfect candidate.” 

Ultimately, the focus of the athletes within the program is to obtain a spot on the Olympic team.  Most recently, the program sent Desiree Davila (current holder of the Boston marathon record for women) to represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games.

“My goals are to stay healthy, push myself to new levels I never have reached, constantly improve, and never limit myself. I hope to continue my love and passion for running and use my God-given ability to challenge and inspire others,” said Brenon. “I am so grateful to my coaches at Houghton for encouraging me, developing me as a runner, seeing me through to more success than I imagined, and finally inspiring me to give this professional running opportunity a go.”

The program offers year-round group training in a stress-free environment. The full sponsorship will include housing, health insurance, $2,400 a year in Brooks® Running gear (apparel, shoes, etc.), coaching and agent services, travel, performance bonuses, and a multitude of medical services, including massage and physical therapy treatments, all at no cost to Brenon.

Houghton’s Executive Director of Athletics H. Skip Lord commented, “Danielle’s signing with such an elite-level running club is an amazing accomplishment that speaks to her ability, her family’s support and the outstanding quality of the Houghton College program.  She is the latest in a long string of outstanding female distance runners. She has not only built faithfully on their foundation, but has raised the bar significantly for those who follow her. She is the epitome of what we [Houghton College] strive to teach in our athletic programs. She is an amazing young lady who sets a wonderful example of excellence spiritually, academically and athletically. I have no doubt that she will be a great ambassador for all that Houghton values.”