Learn : Marathon Story  

Note from Editor: Susan was featured in the April 2007 edition of Runner's World magazine for her continued dedication to running in the face of tragedy. Susan has been running for 37 years, and she continues to share her enthusiasm for running with others as the administrator of JUST RUN, the Big Sur International Marathon's award winning youth fitness program.

Running Background:

marathon photoRunning became my passion 37 years ago, close to the year Frank Shorter won Gold in Munich, when it was considered unhealthy and physically dangerous for women to run long distances, when I was viewed as crazy for doing so, and when finding suitable running shoes was a challenge! It has been fascinating to watch the evolution of running over the past years, particularly for women.

Physically, mentally, and emotionally vital to my well being, running has also become my profession. I am the administrator of JUST RUN, the Big Sur International Marathon's award winning youth fitness program.


I have run 33 marathons and each one has been an experience! My most memorable, however, was the 2005 Napa Valley Marathon. I was registered and had planned to join the Big Sur Marathon's Race Director, Chairman of the Board, and several local runners in Napa for the weekend's festivities.

Seven weeks prior to the race, while preparing to attend one of our training clinics for the Big Sur Marathon, the unimaginable happened. Our county’s sheriff knocked on my door and spoke the devastating words, the words that every parent fears, the words that changed my life forever. "Your son died this afternoon while snowboarding at Wintergreen Resort. He hit a tree and died instantly." B.J., captain of the snowboarding team and a 4.0 student in neuroscience at the University of Virginia, had been secretly training to run his first marathon "to surprise his marathoner mom."

Race Day:

I decided to follow through with my plans to run the Napa Marathon in memory of my son. The organizers of the Big Sur Marathon and the Napa Marathon took me under their wings and made special arrangements for my daughter to get onto the Silverado Trail to join me at mile 20. With B.J.'s picture on our backs, we ran the remaining six miles together and crossed the finish line holding hands. The race director (David Hill) personally congratulated us and put a finisher's medallion around my neck and my daughter Amy's as well. During the race we knew that B.J. was with us, encouraging Amy to run her longest distance ever and inspiring me to win my division.

Tips/Words of Encouragement:

I am a member of the National Speakers Association and gave a motivational speech at the expo at this year's Big Sur Marathon. I dedicated my speech to B.J. At the end I held up a slightly used pair of Mizunos, the last pair of shoes that I had purchased for him for Christmas. I asked my audience to visualize his shoes during the race. "No matter what befalls you tomorrow, appreciate every single step, every single mile because your shoes are full."

Plans to Run Another:

I have run six marathons since the 2005 Napa Marathon, each one in memory of my son. My most recent was Big Sur on April 29, 2007 where I won my division with a time of 3:45:10. I will continue to run marathons and will continue to be grateful to the sport of running for giving me purpose, challenge, focus, good health, and a sense of well being. None of us escape life without tragedy or sorrow and I can't think of anything that has helped me more during the past two years than the gift of running.

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