Athlete Spotlight

Heather Carpenter
6 Star medal and World Record Holder

From conquering Newton Hills, to lighting up the streets of Tokyo, Heather has achieved the dream that many of us continue to strive for. After completing the Tokyo Marathon this Spring, Heather was part of the World Record for most 6 Star Finishes in a single Marathon, which in our eyes is just uber cool! She’s done it all, but continues to push the boundaries of what is possible, and this story has many more chapters to go. Oh and let’s not forget, all of this while being a Mom to 3 boys (well 4 if you include her husband, Rich, which Heather insisted counts too)! Find out about Heather’s adventure through all 6 Majors and some words of wisdom to get you through your next Race too.

Where are you from and how long have you lived in CLT?

I grew up in Columbia, SC but moved to Charlotte immediately after finishing college (Go Gamecocks!) when I got my first job at one of the big banks, First Union.  I’ve lived in Charlotte for 28 years now.

When and how did you get into running?

Right after I turned 40, a  close friend who was an avid runner talked me into joining her and her small ladies running group that met at Promenade on Sundays.  I showed up and joined them as we ran from there down to the Arboretum and then back up Providence Road to the start – 8 miles.  I thought I was going to die!  

What motivates you to keep running?

How good it makes me feel, the friendships I have made and the stress relief and serenity it gives me.

Who is your running idol?

Des Linden.  She is an amazing and talented runner and is just the most humble, down to Earth, approachable person you will ever meet.

What Music/Podcasts do you listen to on your runs?

I have a diverse collection of songs on my playlist.  Anything from Lady Gaga, Post Malone, Nicki Minaj, Harry Styles, The Weekend, Lenny Kravitz to Katy Perry.  A little bit of everything but it has to be a fast beat.

Do you run with any run clubs or groups?

I have a close circle of friends who I run with but I do join Urban Runners periodically and I usually run on Thursdays with the PCC 7@7 crew in Providence Country Club.  They are my people!

What shoe do you like to run your marathons in?

Nike Vaporfly, of course!

What is your favorite training shoe?

Saucony Endorphin Speed and Nike Vaporfly

What is your proudest achievement as a runner?

I am pretty proud of finally doing all 6 marathon majors and getting my 6-star medal.  It took a lot of effort & commitment, especially with the pandemic thrown in.  I also really cherish and appreciate the true friendships I have made along the way.  I love supporting others with their running goals.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome as a runner?

Learning the HARD way (multiple stress fractures) that running more miles does not equate to being a better runner.  Fewer but more quality miles works better for me.

What advice would you give to other runners to help them achieve success as a runner?

Believe in yourself and surround yourself with positive people who also love running.  Don’t waste time with negative people.  I only hang with people who motivate and inspire me. 

Outside of the World Majors, what is a race you would recommend to others?

The Marquette Marathon in Marquette, Michigan – way up in the Upper Peninsula.  It was my very first marathon.  It is a small hometown marathon but is very well organized, with beautiful surroundings and the locals were excited to cheer on the runners.  The support there was just so energizing.  I highly recommend this race.

When did achieving all 6 World Major Stars become a goal of yours?

After doing Boston 3 times and Chicago a couple of times, my non-running husband suggested I branch out and do some of the other majors instead of doing the same ones over and over again.  I decided to go for it and never looked back.  Even when my Berlin and Tokyo plans were derailed due to the pandemic (deferral after deferral), I was determined to still push forward and get it done.  And I am so glad I did – what an AMAZING way to see the world!

Of all the 6 Majors, what was your favorite course to run and why?

I would have to say London.  The city and architecture is stunningly beautiful.  The little water bottles they have on the route instead of cups was such a nice change and so much more efficient.  Also, on my list of top 5 all-time life experiences was running over Tower Bridge at the halfway point.  It was just surreal.  I will go back in April 2024 to make it marathon # 20 for me.  I want it to be there in London.

Of all the 6 Majors, what was your favorite overall event experience?

Boston – it just wins hands down.  I just love the city, the race, the spectators and the energy of this city.

Which World Major would you drop?

New York City.  I am glad I did it but definitely a one-and-done for me.  Logistically it is such a long morning to get to the start (Staten Island).  I just did not love this one.  I did run it injured (which I will NEVER do again) so that I am sure that has contributed to my feelings towards this one.   

What Marathon would you like to see added to the World Majors?

Athens, Greece – the original marathon

Logistically, which World Major was the most challenging?

Tokyo – it was just so far away.  Jet lag was the real deal!  And the food challenge.  I had a hard time finding something I could eat.

Having run Boston 5 times in person (and once virtually). What advice would you give to someone running this race next month?

Just enjoy the experience.  Enjoy every mile and the supporters out there cheering for YOU.  Use that energy on the Newton Hills and remind yourself that it is an absolute privilege to be able to run the Boston Marathon.  I still remember my first Boston – it was literally life-changing.

Now you have your 6 stars, what comes next for you?

I am running the Boston Marathon again next month and then the Abbott WMM Wanda Age Group World Championships in Chicago in early October.  I love the Chicago Marathon and can’t wait to go back to this city.

Tell us one interesting fact or story about yourself that most people don’t know about you? 

I do not like pizza or coffee.  Both are just gross!

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