Running in the New York City marathon is the dream of every serious runner and one that few ever realize, but for Fairfield teacher Tiffany Miller, the dream came true in the middle school gymnasium Friday afternoon.
Her selection to run in this year’s New York City Marathon, set for Sunday Nov. 3, came about through the efforts of Tata Consultancy Services, the title sponsor of the TCS New York City marathon, and Brian Purvis, himself a 2005 Fairfield graduate, said the company has a focus on STEM education and teachers like Miller.
“STEM means Science, Technology, Engineering and Math,” he said. “Technically, it should be called STEAM since ‘Arts’ has been added to the mix, and we sponsor 50 teachers from the thousands who enter across North America — 46 from the U.S. and four from Canada — to run as part of this event.”
Tata Consultancy Services, with offices in Milford, employs more than 420,000 people worldwide and in 2009 initiated a program called “Go I.T.,” which encouraged middle and high school students to strive for STEM-related careers.
Miller was required to submit her entry, background information and qualifications into the selection process and on Friday, Purvis said his company was surprising the qualifying entrants with the news that they would be participating in the big race in The Big Apple.
A K-5 technology teacher at Fairfield Elementary School, The Times-Gazette first caught up with Miller on a cold evening in January at 15 minutes till midnight in the parking lot of Southern State Community College as she logged her 1,000th consecutive day of running.
Her friend, Nicki Dunn, who was recuperating from knee replacement surgery at the time, said some of the men from her church were embarking on a mission trip to Haiti “so in order to run with her on her 1,000th day, we have to run at midnight.”
That consecutive streak is now up to 1,111 days and more than 3,000 miles, and though runners like her look at the New York City marathon as the World Series of running, she views it as an opportunity to fulfill “The Great Commission.”
“I’ll keep running as long as He gives me the privilege to do it so I can keep telling people about Jesus,” she said, after being surprised by Purvis with the news.
Her fiance, Brian Fleming, who popped the question April 18, heard about the award while at church last week, “sneaking out from backstage where I was helping out, and they told me she had won that STEM contest and to keep quiet for the next week.”
“Brian told me I should apply for it so I did on the very last day,” Miller said. “I applied online and did everything except the video portion of it, so I wasn’t even sure they’d consider me.”
Running is more of a ministry to the Leesburg woman than anything else, and involves posting her runs along with scripture on Facebook, drawing a verse of the day from a Bible app on her phone, or a verse that for some reason spoke to her about something or someone.
Miller’s ministry also includes Who I Run 4, a non-profit organization that matches runners with “buddies” who are special needs children and adults, and was on a waiting list for months before being matched with Meredith, a young woman who suffers from a number of chronic illnesses.
Miller will be running in the Nationwide Children’s Marathon in Columbus on Oct. 20, she said, and the New York City Marathon event will mark her fourth marathon. Now that she knows where she will be on the first Sunday morning in November, there is some preparation to do.
“I’m going to have to do some long runs on weekends to get ready,” she said. “And I guess I can’t each as much candy as I’d like anymore, either.”
Rach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.