Posted by: drwbortz | February 28, 2011

Marathon Man and Marathon Woman

Last Friday, the lead sports headline on CNN portrayed the departure of Dean Karnazes from Disneyland on his way on foot to New York. He proclaims this endeavor, “the most intense than I have ever undertaken.” He plans on running 40 miles per day, 14 hours per day, arriving in New York, 12 pairs of running shoes later, on May 11. He is 48 years of age.

I have met Dean numerous times at various marathon events. He is renowned for his 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states effort, which makes my 40 marathons in 40 years seemed pretty paltry in comparison. Yet, I linger not on that thought. In fact, this highly ballyhooed event with daily TV and blogs with high profile celebrities cheering him on is yet another exhibit of the human potential, which I prize highly.

I immediately recall Annabelle Marsh, a good friend who died in San Francisco in 2008 at the age of 85. At age 61, she ran across America from Boston to San Francisco, 3,261 miles in 112 days, which averages 28 miles per day, and wore out 12 pairs of running shoes en route. She had a wonderful slideshow detailing the highs and lows of this trip, which she shared with her many friends in San Francisco. She was an esteemed member of our 50-plus running crowd at Stanford. Annabelle ran 100 marathons, the last in San Francisco, when she was age 73. But her particular specialty was the Pikes Peak Marathon, which she ran 20 times. I can attest to the rigors of this endeavor as my wife and daughter have both done it, and I crewed for them. We were all blue at the high altitude conclusion.

Through all these years and miles Annabel was lovely, actually beautiful. Her friendship was endless, and she gave any running occasion much class. So, Dean as you head east over the hills, along the way please look around for the footprints left by our dear friend Annabelle Marsh, who ran quietly with grace and dignity and with the courage that you exhibit for which we all honor you both.

You show us what we can do.

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