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Creating a home

BY SHELBY STITES | SEPTEMBER 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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They say home is where the heart is — in that case, you will find freshman cross-country runner Marta Bote González’s heart in Mérida, Spain, where she grew up with a passion for running.

Her coach, Francisco Rivero Gutirrez, approached Gonzalez at age 12 and said, “Run with me.” That was the turning point in her career as she developed six years ago from running well in track to training to be great. 

As a result of the intense training, she had 40 universities call to place scholarships in front of her.

So why did she choose Iowa?

“It feels like home,” González said. “Where I grew up is a lot like Iowa City.”

Before she attended Iowa, González represented Spain in Eugene, Oregon, in the International Association of Athletics Federations World Junior Championships this past summer.

Because of jet lag from landing the day before, she said, she placed seventh. This is her second world championship appearance after finishing second the previous year running in the 2,000-meter steeplechase in Ukraine.

Gonzalez came into Oregon signed as a Hawkeye and got the opportunity to visit with head coach Layne Anderson at the World Junior Championships.

“After I talked with [Anderson] in Oregon, I told myself, ‘You made a good choice,’ ” Gonzalez said.

The Hawkeye freshman was the 10th runner to sign with the Hawkeyes entering the 2014 season, and she came in on a full ride. This allowed González to focus on the culture change.

“I felt alone in a new world,” she said. “But my teammates helped a lot.”

Not only is the top junior runner in Spain a nice name to have listed on the Hawkeye roster, but teammates Tess Wilberding and Lisa Gordon agree that her positive outlook brings a lot of good to the team.

“She has a great attitude and is really talented,” Wilberding said. “We are so happy to have her as a teammate and friend.”

With the change in training, coach, and teammates, González loves the motivation she feels.

“I want to improve here, and I want to feel proud by being good,” she said.

Anderson has similar feelings about his new runner.

“She appreciates being here, and she wants to show that appreciation through running,” he said.

Even after running in two major world championships, González is working to improve her times and be successful in the Big Ten.

In the next months at Iowa, she hopes to improve her times to put the Hawkeyes in a good position this upcoming season.

She has the experience and intense training, but her head coach thinks she’ll be something special.

“She hasn’t even scratched the surface of her potential yet,” he said.

Follow @shelbystites on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s cross country team.


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