U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials runners Izewski, Eder proud of Doylestown heritage

United States Olympic Marathon Trials runners Josh Izewski (left) and Veronica Eder run along the shoreline of Lake Galena, not far from where they grew up. (Photo by Wayne Fish)

      It’s not very often a town gets to have one of its athletes in the national sports spotlight.

      But two? At the same time? Practically unheard of.

      Yet that was the case back on Feb. 3 when both Josh Izewski and Veronica Eder of Doylestown competed in the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando, Fla.

      Each of these speedy athletes is a proud graduate of Central Bucks East High School.

      Izewski, 33, running in his second Trials, finished a strong eighth place out of approximately 150 participants in a time of 2:11.09, just two minutes and four seconds off the winner’s clocking and a mere 72 seconds from the final Olympic qualifying spot (third place). Several weeks after the Trials, the University of Florida alum is still dwelling on what might have been with a course adjustment here or there.

      Eder, 29, taking part in her first Trials, ran a personal record 2:35.53 to finish 34th. The Auburn University graduate’s pre-race goal was to place in the top 50.

      Izewski and Eder recently met with the Bucks County Herald at picturesque Lake Galena for photographs and interviews pertaining to the Olympic Trials and so forth and the first topic of conversation had to do with what a great area this is for training, teammate support and all-around good feelings pertaining to the running community in and around Doylestown.

      While Izewski’s main residence is currently in Blowing Rock, North Carolina and Eder calls Philadelphia suburb Manayunk home, both get back to Bucks on occasion to appreciate all it has to offer.

      “There are a lot of great venues up here,” Izewski pointed out. “Where my parents live – I’m able to run to the (Delaware Canal) towpath from their house. That makes it very convenient. I love running down there, too. Especially if the (upcoming) marathon course is flat. You can just go as long as you want.

      “I don’t know if I know many places that offer this variety. You can do loops, cross over bridges. . .running here, there are a lot of great spots where you can do stuff, accomplish the goal of what you’re trying to run.”

      He has already run the Chicago Marathon and plans to run New York City in the fall.

      “Running around here (Galena), with the hills over there (north side of lake) – it’s a good representation if you’re training for New York, where it’s a little bit hillier (due to multiple bridges). If you’re training for Chicago you can run the towpath because both are flat.”

      Eder, who helped create Philadelphia’s Liberty Track Club, also finds this area’s terrain to her liking and credits her club teammates for the reason she’s stuck to her training while still holding down a full-time job.

      “I feel like there’s such a good running community around here,” she said. “When I graduated from Auburn, I moved back home. I just wasn’t running that much. I was running for a group out of Colorado, by myself and I was kind of burned out. When I lived at home, I started running with my dad (Jim, also a marathon runner) and his friends. We would just run around Stockton (New Jersey) and the towpath. It made me love running again. So now I’m finding some good places to run.”

      Jim Eder, who deserves a lot of credit for his daughter’s success, ran a sub-three-hour marathon at Berlin, Germany a couple years back in his early 50s. He made sure he was in Orlando to watch his daughter compete in the Trials.

      “It was really nice to have him there,” Veronica said. “This was the first marathon that he saw me run. That was fun. His marathon in Berlin was his first and I must say 2:52 is not bad.”

      Also in the Orlando cheering section was another CBE grad, Tracey Sawyer, an excellent marathon runner herself.

      Josh and Veronica have a bit of a mutual admiration society going on. Both respect what the other has accomplished.

      “I got to watch her in high school,” he said. “I didn’t realize how good of a runner she was until her junior or senior year at Auburn when she ran the NCAAs. I was like, ‘wow, she’s a good runner.’

     “Coming out of college, she started the team Liberty Track Club. I think anybody who can work at Vanguard (investment advisor company) and put in the mileage she puts in and train to run the Olympic Trials, she probably has a way harder time than I do, which is just run (for ZAP Endurance training group in North Carolina).”

     Getting rattled out of bed by a 5 a.m. alarm clock can test the best of any runner.

      “People like her, who are up way before work, it takes a certain level of dedication, belief in yourself to be out there everyday doing this,” Izewski observed. “Obviously it’s paid off because she finished 34th in the United States. She should be proud of herself. I know I’m proud of her.”

      Josh’s younger brother, Alex, knows Veronica better because they were closer in age.

      “I feel like Josh was just the local legend,” she said with a chuckle. “Everybody knew Josh, even when I went to Auburn. We both competed in the SEC.

      “I always wanted to root for him. It’s just been really cool to see him come in 8th, that’s really just an amazing accomplishment. Not many people get to do that. I think one of the best things is we saw each other in the hotel lobby (in Orlando) the day before the race. He invited me to come run with the team. I really appreciated that. It was great to meet all his teammates. Everybody was so welcoming. It’s been cool to watch him continue to improve. No surprise. He continues to be a local legend.”

     Izewski had hoped and planned to run 2:09.40.

     “You can’t change anything now,” he said. “I can look back at all the things I could have done differently but I’m happy where I finished.”

     No complaints from Eder about her performance either.

     “I am obviously very happy,” said Eder, who ran a stellar 1:13.46 at the Philadelphia Distance Run (half-marathon) last fall as a prep race. “I feel like a bigger PR is coming. I just wish it happened on that day.”

       Both say these Trials won’t be their last.

      “I want to do this for as long as I can,” Izewski said.

      Added Eder: “I do, too. I mean, it’s always hard to balance everything. But in four years I’ll give it a shot, try my best.”

      The 2028 Summer Olympics just happen to be in Los Angeles. A little extra incentive for the dynamic Doylestown duo.

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About Wayne Fish 2473 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.