Residents prepare for marathon

February 25, 2002|By STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A group of Franklin County, Pa., residents registered for the Pittsburgh Marathon this spring say they face two major obstacles - and running the 26.2-mile race isn't one of them.

Most of the nine runners agree that simply finding the time to train and soliciting funds from their friends, families and co-workers is the hardest part.

The group has been training since December for the May 5 race as part of Team in Training, the largest fund-raising program for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, whose mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma.

"I've been running for 15 years but never thought I could tackle the time commitment," said Tim Walsh, 41, who is training for his first marathon.


"Finding time to get the longer and longer runs in is hard. It's tough during the work week to be out every day," he said. "I get up and run in the dark or run after work on a treadmill at the YMCA."

The group, under the leadership of coach Cliff Cole of Chambersburg, meets at least twice a month on Saturdays for long runs. This past weekend that meant 14 miles through Gettysburg, Pa.

Ken Deater, 34, of Greencastle, Pa., said he was not much of a runner before signing up for the marathon with his wife, Kate, 30.

"We started from scratch as non-runners," he said. "We wanted to take fitness more seriously and integrate exercise into our lives."

A flier in the mail about an organizational meeting in November sparked the Deaters' interest. Learning how the funds they raise will be spent sealed their decision.

Each Team in Training member has to raise $2,000, and 75 percent of what is raised goes to the Society. The remaining 25 percent covers the cost of coaching, training materials, hotel accommodations, a pasta party and a victory party, said Rich Centola, campaign director for the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Each runner chooses an "honor patient," a local resident with cancer or in remission, as their inspiration.

Unlike Cole, who knows his honor patient, Tracy Baer, on a casual level, the others he is training are trying to arrange meetings with their honor patients.

"I have set my goal at $2,800. I feel this man needs more funds available," Cole said. Baer is 40 and was diagnosed with leukemia in October.

Brianna Renshaw, 24, of Chambersburg, decided to register with Team in Training after losing two acquaintances to cancer.

"I can pray for them, but I wondered how else I could help," she said. A Team in Training brochure she saw months before popped back in her head and she signed up to run the Pittsburgh marathon with them.

"It's a way to do something positive with my running," she said.

Margaret Spivey, 48, of Shippensburg, Pa., trains with the group for the half-marathon - 13.1 miles - she will run in Alaska in June.

She has the biggest financial commitment and must raise $4,200 before then.

"It's a huge commitment," she said, but expects running the day of the summer solstice when there are 23 hours of daylight in Alaska will be well worth her efforts.

Nationwide, Team in Training has grown to 35,000 runners who raised $84.2 million last year. Centola said he hopes the Central Pennsylvania Chapter will raise about $500,000 this year.

Most of the first-time marathon runners are hoping just to cross the finish line, although Kate Deater is already considering running a second one this fall.

"Marathoning is a strange bug. If it bites you, you get hooked," Centola said.

Barry Stewart, 38, of Chambersburg, who is running his third marathon, has set his sights on finishing in less than four hours, while Cole hopes to finish his second marathon in three hours and 20 minutes.

Walsh has a simpler goal.

"I'm looking forward to the last mile," he said.

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