Valley Neighbors: Bright future for valley runner
by Sandi Olson
Feb 13, 2014 | 3523 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anna Maxwell. Courtesy photo
Anna Maxwell. Courtesy photo
Anna Maxwell. Courtesy photo
Anna Maxwell. Courtesy photo
Anna Maxwell. Courtesy photo
Anna Maxwell. Courtesy photo
Wearing a red national team uniform, San Lorenzo Valley High School senior Anna Maxwell represented the United States junior team at the Bupa Great XC International Challenge Run. This event was held in Edinburgh, Scotland on January 11. Only six girls were chosen to compete on the youth team in this 4000-meter race. Maxwell finished 11th overall and 3rd on her team in 14 minutes, 32 seconds. Battling a soggy, wet course with rolling hills and a creek to cross, she was the only high school girl on the U.S. team.

Maxwell has had a tremendous comeback. She collapsed during her final three races of last year and virtually crawled across the finish line. At first, no one could figure out what was wrong. She took time off from training and was eventually diagnosed with food allergies.

Now she is ranked No. 1 in the state for Division IV, and is also one of the best high school runners in the country.

“After taking time off to rest and change my diet, I've come back and had a stellar season,” said Maxwell. “Winning the state championship for the mile in track, going to the Ukraine and then to Edinburgh (for cross country) really boosted my confidence. It was an eye opener to see the different cultures and a great opportunity to run with college and professional runners who love the sport.”

Born February 8, 1996, Maxwell grew up in Felton. Her mom, Tracy Maxwell, is a foster education liaison for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. Her dad, Jeff Maxwell, works as a fire chief for the Central Fire Protection District in Santa Cruz. As a child, she played soccer and enjoyed riding her pony, Lollipop. Maxwell started to run in seventh grade but didn't do cross country until she got to high school.

“Most of my friends were out running,” said Maxwell. “I thought it would be a great way to stay in shape and meet people. It turned out to be an awesome sport for me.”

“My favorite places to run are Nisene Marks and Henry Cowell Park,” Maxwell said. “I love the trails, seeing the beauty of nature all around me and the wildlife. The terrain can be difficult, but the scenery and tranquility of the forest makes it totally worth the effort.”

Along with competing at the Bupa in Scotland, another highlight of Maxwell's cross country career has been running at the Footlocker Cross Country National Championships in San Diego three times. She placed in the top five and made All-American status this year. As a result, she was chosen to represent her country at the Bupa.

Maxwell is a strong academic, too and carries a 4.2 GPA in school and has taken AP classes for the past two years. She recently signed a letter of intent to run for the University of Washington in the fall.

“I really like the track and field and cross country coach, Greg Metcalf, at the University of Washington,” Maxwell said. “I think I'll fit in well with the team. They're a great group of girls who seem to care about the sport and each other.”

Maxwell's future goal is to combine athletics and academics. She plans to study the sciences in college, with a focus on ecology, or environmental law.

As for her running career, she wants to continue doing what she loves for as long as she can.

“It's the highlight of my day and a great stress reliever,” Maxwell said. “I'm very thankful for the gift I've been given and try to just have fun and not take it too seriously.”

With her drive and ability, there is no doubt that Maxwell will be successful in whatever the future has in store for her.

- Sandi Olson of Scotts Valley is a writer, speaker and teacher. She writes about interesting people in Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley. E-mail her at

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