Madeleine King, born to win

Madeleine King cries in joy as she breaks the tape as the first woman to cross the 2023 Shamrock Marathon finish line on March 20, 2023.

Cross country runner and Class of 2017 Ocean Lakes graduate Madeleine King continues to inspire those around her. 

With a time of 2:44.42, King placed first for women in the recent 2023 Shamrock Marathon and was awarded the fastest female Shamrock Marathon time in history. With this time, she would have qualified for the 2020 Olympics and is seven minutes away from qualifying for the 2024 Olympics. 

“I wasn’t surprised she could do a marathon. However, I was surprised how fast she ran on her first attempt. She had never run beyond 20 miles prior to that day,” said cross country and track coach Michael Nestor.

The Shamrock Marathon, consisting of 26.2 miles, is one of the biggest events in Virginia Beach with over 24,000 runners racing per year, according to

King began competitively running at the age of 12 and has set numerous records throughout the years.

“She immediately had a great impact on our team as a freshman and improved every year. She broke 5:00 for the one mile and one of her proudest moments came as a senior when she won the indoor state championship for the two mile,” said coach Nestor.

Following high school, King attended the University of Mississippi where she set the 2021 indoor track women’s school record for the one mile with a time of 4:43.44. After undergrad, she went to graduate school at Notre Dame where she continued running at the Division I level.

“I decided at 22 years old that I wanted to run the Boston Marathon, which meant I would need to run a qualifying time. I knew that if I was going to do any marathon, it had to be the Shamrock,” said King.

King began training in January of 2023, which gave her 10 weeks to prepare for race day. Each week was different, but consisted of 11 hours running, two to four hours stretching, weight training and recovery.

“I knew my training had prepared me to finish this race and all I needed to do was allow myself mentally not to break. I always like to think about how cool the human body is, it can withstand far greater things if your mind lets it. I was prepared to find out what mine could do that day,” said King. 

King not only surprised the spectators, but herself. She went into the race just hoping to finish and didn’t know that she would be taking home a grand medal until the 24th mile.

“The moment was pure joy and excitement. The crowd around me was fantastic, and I was just so emotional by it all. I was smiling most of the race, but the last one and a half miles, I had the biggest smile on my face,” said King. “When I finally crossed the finish line, I began crying, crying tears of joy.”