Every Racer Has a Story, Share Yours

"Racing is pain, and that's why you do it, to challenge yourself and the limits of your physical and mental barriers. You don't experience that in an armchair watching television." MARK ALLEN

Every Racer Has a Story, Share Yours

The ING Miami Marathon & Half Marathon team is looking for a few great stories. Every racer has a story, but we’re looking for a few that tell a triumphant tale, inspire others to train for a distance race, or share a major milestone in a personal journey. If you have a great story you’d like to share, please send your brief story. Train well!

What’s my story?

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~ The Wonder Years, TV show.Life is a precious moment of time, within our moments we create our own set of precious memories that we keep for our lifetime. Our friends, our family and all the acquaintances that we meet along the way, we remember and keep within our memory. Over time our memory starts to fade, but that comes with age. We rely on pictures to recollect that precious time we shared together or what we were doing at that precious time or event. Now, imagine yourself waking up one morning to find that you do not know who your friends are, who your family members are and most importantly, who you are. These are the realities of what the Alzheimer’s disease does to a person. Usually, the disease affects elderly people, although there are more and more cases of this disease affecting the youth. Many people will say that they run for fitness, for a goal and for stress relief. I do it for all those reasons and more. I run marathons to see the country, to experience the culture and indulge in the architecture within these cities. I take pictures of these moments to capture my journey of the 50 states across America.I have been looking at my right side more often at the band that states, “A reason for hope.” This band means more to me this year than any other year that I have raised money for the Alzheimer’s Association. My grandfather, the caretaker for my grandmother for the past 2 years that she had Alzheimer’s, had recently passed away in November. My family had not expected this, where all this time we had been worried about my grandmother who had been affected by the Alzheimer’s disease. Sad to say, but we had told my grandmother that her husband had passed away and her response was: “If he had to go, he had to go.” During the funeral, my grandmother had no reference or clue whose funeral she was attending. The disease is a horrible disease which I would never want anyone else’s family to endure.

I will be running in this year’s 2008 Miami Marathon. I will be keeping my thoughts with my grandfather and grandmother during the harder parts of the enduring marathon. Boston Qualifying is not an option and try to even define all odds in trying for a PR in a sub 3 marathon…but then again, I will give all of that up because I take random pictures during the entirety of the race. I started running marathons in 2006 (doing 2), 2007 I did 5, and 2008 I also did 5. Out of all of my 12 races (all in 12 different states) I have still not fully raced a marathon without my camera. Each marathon I do, I take about 100+ pictures due to the terrible disease of memory. A marathon is a defining moment, each marathon from year to year is different and within that moment of time you will never gain back again. The pain, joy, agony and despair are emotions that you live for within a marathon.

So you ask why I run? I run simply for the experience, the love, the joy, the hunger and pain…but in all, I run for the memory.

Fundraising for the 2009 Boston Run for the Memory team:

Smaller races thrive in shadow of mega-marathons
Published: November 25, 2008
By Ben Klayman and Phil Wahba

For years, cities like New York and London have hosted the premier events in the world of marathon running, but now runners are finding relative comfort at smaller venues like Philadelphia and Copenhagen.

These second-tier races are still a gruelling 26.2 miles long, of course, but their smaller fields mean a shorter wait to cross the starting line and faster times, both factors that appeal to runners.

Glen Wiener, a New York attorney, has run the New York Marathon three times in the past, but this year turned to Philadelphia, which hosted 8,000 runners in bitterly cold weather on Sunday.
"There are certain things you can do at a smaller race, like have a food tent at the finish and serve chicken soup, which you can't do with a marathon with 40,000 runners," Wiener said of his first marathon outside New York city.

As major marathons like New York, with its 39,000 runners and millions of spectators, struggle to meet demand -- it received 104,000 applications this year -- smaller marathons are mushrooming.

The San Antonio Marathon in Texas had a sold-out debut on November 16 and new ones are planned in Seattle and Las Vegas next year, adding to the approximately 400 marathons a year in the United States and about 800 worldwide.

"The market now for marathons is growing insanely, and Philadelphia has certainly benefited," said Melanie Johnson, the executive director of the Philadelphia Marathon.
Philadelphia, in its 15th year, sold out for the second year running this year, despite raising registrations by 20 percent to 8,000 runners.

About 407,000 runners finished a U.S. marathon in 2007, up 2.3 percent from a year earlier, and 36 percent since 2000, according to data from MarathonGuide.com (http://www.marathonguide.com), an industry website.

The sport is also growing in Europe. The Copenhagen marathon in May drew 8,500 runners, nearly double the number from two years earlier, as European runners seek alternatives to the mega marathons in London, Berlin and Paris.

"More people are running marathons because it's like a Mount-Everest type challenge on people's life to-do list," said Mary Wittenberg, chief executive of New York Road Runners and race director of New York's marathon.

Those same people are also often competitive, affluent professionals that sponsors, which provide funding for the races, want to attract.

Sponsorships are relatively cheap, costing anywhere from $5,000 (3,329 pounds) to $250,000, depending on the commitment level.

"Endurance sports have a fantastic demographic," said Ray Bednar, senior vice president and global sponsorship executive at Bank of America, the title sponsor of the Chicago Marathon, the second largest in the country.

"Sixty-three percent of the people participating in marathons have a household income between $50,000 and $200,000, so you're getting a mass affluent segment."

Dutch financial company ING Group NV, the title sponsor of the New York marathon through 2010, also supports races in Atlanta, Hartford, Miami, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
"Running was and continues to be undersponsored, so that provided us with an opportunity to really jump in and start to own a sport," said Ann Glover, ING's chief marketing officer for the Americas.

Sponsorship spending on U.S. marathons will reach $84 million in 2008, a far cry from the $832 million generated by the National Football League, but still up 8.4 percent from the preceding year, according to IEG SponsorshipReport.

Next year, the economic downturn may scare off sponsors. Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, lost sports apparel maker Nike Inc as a secondary sponsor, and General Motors Corp's Saturn brand, which spends its sponsorship dollars only at marathons, will cut spending significantly in 2009.

The total U.S. market for endurance sports -- principally running, cycling and triathlons -- stands at $1.3 billion and is rising, according to Competitor Group Inc, the leading U.S. marathon organizer. The sector boasts more than 3.4 million active participants in the United States.
The sport has even attracted the attention of private investors like Falconhead Capital LLC, which acquired Competitor Group in January.

Between shutting down streets along a 26.2 mile course, setting up water and medical stations, and building starting and finishing areas to accommodate thousands of people, a successful marathon hinges on a city government's buy-in.

A marathon can even pay for itself. Race registration fees typically range from $70 to $125, but the real money for cities comes from hotel stays, restaurant visits and other tourist dollars.
Philadelphia officials estimate their race's impact on the city at $11 million. By comparison, this year's New York marathon, which is owned by the non-profit New York Road Runners, brought the city about $235 million, while Chicago's generated $130 million.

"Marathons are excuses for mini-vacations," said Victoria Schreiber, who clocked her best time in five years on Philadelphia's flat route through its historic areas on Sunday.

"Destination becomes a decision factor," said Schreiber, a 37-year-old marketing director from New York who has travelled to Big Sur, California, Paris and Prague for races.

With so many marathons springing up, races are coming up with ways to differentiate themselves, and tap into the niche market of runners who prefer more intimate courses.

"They're like off-Broadway to Broadway," said the New York marathon's Wittenberg, comparing smaller races to the smaller niche theatres that thrive when major Broadway plays sell out. "There are plenty of aficionados who prefer off-Broadway."

Many second-tier marathons, including Philadelphia, Hartford, Ottawa, and Grandma's in Duluth, Minnesota, have found the surest way to increase participation in their full marathons is to tack on a half marathon.

Those shorter distances can still give a runner the same feeling of accomplishment with far less training. They also draw women in a sport where full marathons are about 60 percent male.
"What that has created is a basic appeal to female runners," said Competitor Group Chief Executive Peter Englehart.

Next March, Walt Disney Co is inaugurating a half marathon marketed to women called the "Princess Half Marathon" at Walt Disney World in Florida.

The entertainment giant hosts a series of races, including a full marathon, at its various parks for runners of all ages, including one for infants dubbed "Diaper Dash."

"We're always looking to fill those gap periods and drive attendance to the resort," said Kathleen Duran, head of Disney's endurance sports business.

Running in Philadelphia, Wiener said he missed the huge crowds that line the course in New York and boost the runners as they grow weary. And, he said, the wind off the Schuylkill River slowed his time, so he needed the hot soup provided at the finish.

"There are trade-offs," he said.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman and Phil Wahba; Editing by Eddie Evans)


Anonymous said...

Brian, I'll donate what I can here and to get other people I know in the area to do likewise.

Alzheimer's like cancer which has affected my family is something we can hopefully cure in our lifetime.

Thanks for sharing this and all the best in 2009. Hopefully, I'll be back in November for NYC and to meet some of the Flyers. Please take care. - Wayne

Trakmaniak said...

SFrunner, I appreciate all you can give and with a tough economy, I appreciate all you are doing to help raise awareness.

I am so sorry to hear about your family that is affected by this disease and I do wish you and your family well.

I have learned that this disease has affected so many people that I did not even know they were effected by this cruel ilness...it's good and bad that we are bonded by two things: Running and trying to help find a cure...

I am so sorry to hear that your family is going through the hardships that my family is going through at the moment as well.

I wish you and your family the very best and only can say thank you for doing what you have already done.

If you are ever in the NYC area, please feel free to contact me and I would love to chat, share stories and even buy you a beer...it's the least I can do.


Anonymous said...

You're welcome trakmaniak. And if you come to SF, please contact me. The same applies. Have a good week ahead!