KODAK, Tenn. — At 6 a.m. in the rain on a school day, dozens of Northview Academy students joined cross country coach Julie Fox-Williams to run.
Not just any teacher can get so many kids to run around the Kodak campus that early.
"That makes me happy that they'll show up at 6 a.m. to run with me," she said.
Her students will tell you there's something special about Coach Fox.
"She really has made me a better person at working hard not only in sports, but in life," said cross country senior Leny Torres.
"She's really supportive and she really pushes me to be better every day, even when I don't feel like it. And it really inspires me to keep on doing what I do," said cross country senior Ty Williams.
Coach is training with her students as she prepares for the race of a lifetime.
"It's kind of like the Super Bowl of running, in my opinion. I mean, it's just a huge thing that I'm so excited to be able to be a part of," said Fox-Williams.
She's talking about the Boston Marathon.
Fox-Williams qualified for Boston by finishing the 2019 Salt Lake City marathon in 3 hours and 25 minutes. That's about 5 minutes faster than the time she needed for her age group.
But then, the pandemic canceled her race.
Instead of scaling back, she started training harder.
"I started running every single day. And I did cross training also, but I ran all throughout," said Fox-Williams.
She ran by herself and with her students.
"She makes us do like fast agility stuff so she can get prepared. But it helps us too so it works out," said Torres.
Even if they complain about the extra work, those kids are her biggest fans.
"I think it's amazing. I know she can do it. And it's really inspiring," said Williams. "And I hope I can do it myself one day, so I want to be like her one day."
They're preparing each other for Fox-Williams' sixth and biggest marathon.
"I've tried to hold back my excitement until recently, because, I mean, I was afraid that it might get pushed back again," she said. "But it didn't, so we're running on Monday!"
But before Monday comes, there will be another early morning practice where her team will show up rain or shine.
And those runners wait to hear the same words coach always tells them at the end of practice.
"Love you, bye. Have a great day."
The Boston Marathon is on Monday, October 11, 2021.