Mary Alex England: All-SEC Runner, Pancake Chef
March 7, 2017
PHOTO BLOG | INSTAGRAM: @MAPLESYRUPINMYBAG_SWAG
By Joey Jones, Ole Miss Athletics Communications
What is the best food after a long, hard run in the hot Mississippi sun?
For All-SEC runner Mary Alex England and several of her Ole Miss teammates, it’s pancakes (and maybe some ice cream on the side).
In the four years since she was a brand-new freshman in Oxford, the Cary, North Carolina, native has not only shattered the record books on the track and cross country course, she has also become quite the pancake chef.
“Growing up, my family would have chocolate chip pancakes on a weekend,” England recalls. “My senior year of high school I was kind of training to do a half marathon, and when I would come back from a run I would made pancakes. And then I realized you can make all these exciting pancakes. Then I started taking a picture and trying to style them perfectly. I guess you could say the obsession has kind of built over the years.”
Her fame amongst her teammates grew with her Instagram account @maplesyrupinmybag_swag that regularly features mouth-watering images of her best creations. Piles of pancakes. Heaped with blueberries, strawberries, bananas. Drizzled with maple syrup, whipped cream, or her signature peanut butter maple delight. Always with the hashtag: #NOWAFFLESALLOWED.
“It’s almost soothing in a way,” England says. “What can I say? It’s my hobby to make and take pictures of pancakes.”
She’s no slouch athletically or academically either.
England recently placed fourth in the 5000 meters at the SEC Indoor Championships in a school-record time of 16:12.67. She also ranks top seven in Ole Miss history in the indoor 3000 and the outdoor 1500, 5000 and 10,000-meter races.
On the cross country course, England paced the Rebels to their first ever NCAA team appearance and best SEC team finish (second) in program history this past fall. Her seventh-place individual finish at the conference meet made her the program’s first All-SEC first team runner. She earned second-team status in 2015.
“It’s been really exciting, especially coming off our big season in cross country as a team,” England said. “We just wanted to build that momentum into indoor, and I know everyone achieved huge PRs (personal records). It was nice."
On top of all that, she graduated in August with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and is currently pursuing a master’s degree from the university’s nationally revered Patterson School of Accountancy.
Of course, she almost didn’t come to Ole Miss. Almost didn’t join the track team. And nobody would have ever heard of her scrumptious pancake skills.
A swimmer in high school, England decided not to swim in college like many of her friends, but instead wanted to focus on academics at a big ACC or SEC institution. But not Ole Miss.
“I was going on a tour of several schools with my mom - Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU,” England remembers. “Ole Miss was on the way, so she said, ‘let’s just go tour Ole Miss.’ I said ‘Mom, I’m not going to school in Mississippi. There’s no way.’ Sure enough, we came and everyone was so nice. The food was really good (Ajax and Big Bad Breakfast). The financial benefits from academics made it my favorite all-around. I chose about two weeks later. I wanted to come to Ole Miss.”
She only joined the Rebel squad as a walk-on after a rainy tryout following her true freshman year in Oxford. And the rest is history.
“When I first joined the team, I really just wanted to run,” England said. “I didn’t have any expectations other than that. With each year, my expectations for myself and the team have just gotten greater. I think each year we’ve met those expectations and even gone above them. When I first joined the team, I had no idea what NCAA nationals were for cross country, but to watch the team as a whole improve so much has been really gratifying. The way this year has gone so far, it’s been the best way to end four years of track & field and cross country.”
As for life after running, England is probably destined for greatness in the accounting world. But that won’t stop her from making some more banana chocolate chip or cinnamon swirl pancakes.
“It’s really fun for me to do,” she said. “I don’t think I could ever make a career out of pancakes, but it’s definitely a fun outlet to have.”
Her friends and teammates hope she never stops.
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