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House of Mercy Charity Run A “Christmas Miracle”

© 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. – 2016 News Coverage

I’ve thought about what to say now for a few weeks following our “3rd Annual Christmas Day Walk/Run to Benefit the House of Mercy.” The feelings I need to convey and the people I need to thank. But what do you say when there simply aren’t words to describe the feelings inside you? And when thank you simply isn’t enough?

What started with 6 of us 3 years ago, turned into approximately 40 runners and walkers making their way out to the event this past Christmas morning in what has become the gift I most look forward to each year. To the local Girl Scouts who made and donated blankets, to those who fundraised at local craft shows, to Fleet Feet Sports Rochester for collecting donations for the 3rd year in a row and to the Rochester Running company who added their location as a donation drop off site this year, thank you. I am truly blessed to have your help.

Local Girl Scouts took the time to make, then donate blankets to the shelter.

To the firefighters at the Hudson Avenue station who agreed not only to join our group in a few Christmas carols; but took the time to prepare coffee and hot chocolate and greet our runners with a warm smile and warm place to gather after dropping off donations, sharing those moments with you all and having an opportunity to thank you for your service, on Christmas morning, was so very special to me.

A special thanks to the Hudson Ave station firefighters for providing refreshments and joining in with a few Christmas carols.

To the Rochester NY running community who once again loaded up the House of Mercy, your kindness and generosity can only be described as a “Christmas Miracle.” You have touched my heart in ways that I’ll never adequately be able to convey. Because of you, we were able to drop off toys for less fortunate children to open on Christmas morning, toiletries, food and money to assist with the shelter’s day to day operations, and between 50-100 bags of hats, gloves, coats and other clothing to help the shelter as they fight homelessness in the community we all call home.

Another quick group photo before heading out.

And to the 40 or so of you who joined me on Christmas morning, whether running, walking, or transporting donations and runners, there really are no words I can think of to thank you enough. It is a great honor and privilege to put this event together each year but it is only successful because of you. On a 33 degree morning, with so much going on, you chose to make this run and its cause a priority. From postponing a trip out-of-town to see family, to delaying the opening of gifts that Santa left, to bumping your holiday dinner or planning your entire day around this event, it did not go unnoticed and I can only hope that helping out an organization as wonderful as the House of Mercy brought you as much joy as you brought me in doing so.

All Smiles! Some of the nearly 40 runners and walkers snapped a quick photo on the way to the shelter.

This run truly exhibits the spirit of the holiday season, no matter what holiday you celebrate. We have created a holiday tradition that we can all be proud of, one that truly impacts lives here in the Rochester community, and I cannot thank you all enough for making this event more powerful each year. With the House of Mercy moving into their new location in 2017, the route will change but one thing will remain the same, my desire to make this bigger and better each year as you truly inspire me.

Approxiately 40 runners teamed up Christmas Day morning to run donations to the House of Mercy homeless shelter in Rochester NY.

The “Battle at Bristol Mountain” – My Quest to Join the Ultra Marathon Club

Named “The Battle at Bristol Mountain,” Fleet Feet Rochester and Yellow Jacket Racing teamed up July 30, 2016 to offer runners just that, a battle. With distances ranging from 1k (straight up the mountain) to 50k (several thousand feet of elevation change), there was a battle for everyone.

Setting my sights on my first-ever ultra marathon, I signed up for the 50k and began training for this event 3 months prior to race day. Running mileage increased as the weeks went on, hill workouts and training runs on the mountain itself would quickly become the norm. Every weekend for the last six weeks leading up to race day included a 5 to 10 mile loop on that mountain. Not fast. Not pretty. Not enjoyable. But I was ready. I had a plan of attack and I was going to win this battle and join the Ultra Marathon club.

Race day came like most others. The race was about 40 minutes from home meaning a 5:30am wakeup call would leave me plenty of time to get ready, get to the course and mentally prepare for the 31+ miles and many hours of running I would soon face. A total of 49 people had registered for the 50k distance, but just 34 of us would line up in the starting coral, ready to “battle.”

Chris Young, Chris Herman and Josh Kramer from the Fleet Feet / Brooks Racing Team prepare to do "battle."
Chris Young, Chris Herman and Josh Kramer from the Fleet Feet / Brooks Racing Team prepare to do “battle” at Bristol Mountain July 30, 2016.

The course began with a trip up “gravel grind,” somewhere between 1.5-2 miles that took you from the bottom of the mountain to the top – albeit for the first time. All said and done, the course featured nearly 12,000 feet of elevation gain (and loss) at up to a 40% grade. To put that in perspective 12,000 feet is the equivalent to over 11 Eiffel Towers, 10 Empire State buildings or 79 Statue of Liberty’s. Over 2.25 miles up – and 2.25 miles down we would go.

I had done previews of the course, including gravel grind, several times during my training and come to the conclusion that this “run” would not be completely a run. My plan of attack was to walk anything that went up and run everything that went down. Keeping this in mind, I began the first accent, trekking poles in hand, walking. I carried my hydration pack, plenty of fuel, food, aspirin, allergy medicine and even duct tape in case I encountered blistering. I thought of everything, even an extra battery should my cell phone start dying before completing the course. Nothing was coming between me and completing my first Ultra Marathon.

Around 5 miles in, having made it up and down the mountain a couple of times, it was something I hadn’t planned for which would provide the days first unforeseen obstacle; rain. Though it started off as a welcome cooling down, the rain was, in retrospect, the beginning of the end for my quest to become an Ultra Marathoner.

The constant pounding of my toes into the front of my shoes became more and more painful the more saturated my socks and shoes became. The grassy downhill running became tougher as things got wet and sometimes slick, and that welcome cool down became a nuisance once everything, including me was soaking wet.

As I continued towards the 10-mile completion of my first loop, I was sure that both feet must be completely covered in blisters. The pain was something I had never encountered, but I knew if I could tough things out a little longer I could address things at the bottom of the mountain.

Finally completing that first lap, I was met by members of Fleet Feet working the aid station who provided both refueling of the body and mind with some great words of encouragement. After taking off my shoes and drying my feet I decided to take advantage of the duct tape I had packed and tape both feet to prevent blistering which had somehow not happened to this point.

Sean Hendrick gives me some words of encouragement as I complete my first lap. Photo Courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester. Copyright 2016.
Sean Hendrick gives me some words of encouragement as I complete my first lap. Photo Courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester. Copyright 2016.

I took my time leaving this aid station as I would begin my second climb of gravel grind. Almost immediately, I began to encounter my second unplanned and previously un-experienced obstacle, cramping. This wasn’t the run of the mill tight calves that I’ve encountered in longer distance running, and was far worse than anything I felt even after completing my first marathon just months earlier. This was both calves and both quads screaming how much they hated this “battle,” and how badly they wanted me to raise the white flag.

As I continued up gravel grind that second time, my calves and quads began to pulsate on their own. Being a stubborn SOB that doesn’t give up, I made it to the top of the mountain unsure of how I would proceed. Whether it was the look on my face, or the “gimping” I called running at that point, it must have been evident that I was in some major discomfort as “Mike” and a few of his buddies stopped and offered up salt packets to help ease the cramping.

Runners make their way up "gravel grind" as they begin their second loop. Photo Courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester. Copyright 2016.
Runners make their way up “gravel grind” as they begin their second loop. Photo Courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester. Copyright 2016.

I was able to make it down the mountain and back up again before hitting the aid station at the top of the mountain around 12 miles in. At this point, I was fairly certain that I would not be finishing this race, but Laura who was volunteering, did a fabulous job in talking me into believing that I could, and off I went.

Down the mountain and back up again I went as I continued to push forward. I hit mile 13, 14, and 15. The miles seemed to get longer as my pace continued to worsen. The pulsating quads and calves seemed to get more painful with each step. Whether I could keep pushing physically or not, I was now faced with the reality that I would not be able to complete my second lap within the allotted time cut-off. Reaching the bottom of the mountain at around 17 miles I made the decision not to head back up the mountain and headed towards the timing tent. And just like that, my day was over. My race was over. My quest for Ultra Marathon status was over. And I had my first and only DNF on my racing resume. I had lost the Battle at Bristol.

Ann Marie Bedelyon poses with me after completing her half marathon on Bristol Mountain. No thumbs up for me after falling short on the 50k.
Ann Marie Bedelyon poses with me after completing her half marathon on Bristol Mountain. No thumbs up for me after falling short on the 50k.

In the days following the race, my running friends would congratulate me on a solid effort on the mountain that day. My non-running friends would tell me how insane I was for attempting something so crazy as they were totally in awe of the 17 miles I logged that day in July. While I could step back and be both proud of the effort I gave that day and acknowledge the “accomplishment,” I now have 365 days to train and to plan my attack for next year’s “Battle at Bristol Mountain.”

Caesar Rodney Half Marathon & 5K – 04/03/2016

Caesar Rodney Half & 5k

The American Lung Association is privileged to host the 2016 Caesar Rodney ½ Marathon, 5K and Relays on Sunday, April 3rd, 2016. In its 53rd year, this renowned and historic Delaware race stands as the oldest half marathon in the country. The Caesar Rodney ½ Marathon attracts thousands of runners and features a hilly course that winds through the most beautiful and scenic areas in Wilmington. And for those not quite ready for a half-marathon, we also offer the two-person half marathon relay option and a run/walk friendly 5K.

By joining the 2016 Caesar Rodney 1/2 Marathon & 5K, you are helping to make a positive impact in the lives of those affected by lung disease. Participants raise funds to support the mission of the American Lung Association while taking part in the 2016 Caesar Rodney 1/2 Marathon & 5K in Wilmington, DE.

Once you register, you’ll have access to your 2016 Caesar Rodney 1/2 Marathon & 5K Participant Center. You’ll have the ability to customize your personal web page and share your reason for running, and send emails to ask others to join you or donate.

Caesar Rodney Half & 5k 04032016

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Caesar Rodney Half & 5k 04032016

Wine Country Running Event/Expo – 04/10/2016

Wine Country Running Event 04102016

Fleet Feet Santa Rosa presents the first annual Wine Country Running Event on April 10th, 2016 at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek. This premier event is designed to bring the running community together with top running vendors, professional athletes, local race directors, guest speakers and sports medicine clinics. This will be an incredible expo for runners of all categories to learn more about the sport and network.

Featured vendors include:

  • Addaday
  • Adidas
  • Altra
  • Asics
  • Brooks
  • Feetures
  • Hoka One
  • Mizuno
  • Nathan Sports
  • New Balance
  • Saucony
  • Superfeet
  • Event Facebook Page:

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    Sonoma County Human Race – 05/07/2016

    Human Race 05/07/2016

    The Human Race is a nationwide community fundraising event for nonprofit organizations and is the largest collaborative fundraising event in Sonoma County as well as the largest Human Race in the nation. In 2016 we will be celebrating 35 years of helping our community!

    The Sonoma County Race features a 3K and 10K run and walk through Howarth and Spring Lake Parks, rain or shine.

    Organizations and businesses recruit walkers/runners/donation-gatherers to raise funds. Funds can be raised for any nonprofit organization, school or church. The run and walk is open to all.

    The Human Race is a proven fundraiser that has been successful for Sonoma County nonprofits for 34 years and continues to grow. The Volunteer Center provides marketing, publicity, materials, and experienced assistance. Nonprofits and businesses provide the people power.

    In 2015 there were over 8,000 participants and nearly $650,000 was raised for over 181 nonprofits who benefited from the event. The first Human Race in 1981 raised $1,800.

    Sonoma Human Race 05/07/2016

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    Santa Rosa Rec & Parks St. Patrick’s Day 5k – 03/13/2016

    Santa Rosa St. Patrick's Day 5k

    This 5K chip-timed race is open to all ages and abilities and participants receive a commemorative mug at the finish line! Stick around after the race for the post-run celebration complete with a judged costume contest, fun activities, sponsor giveaways and music. Plus, all finishers get to fill their race mug with root beer courtesy of Whole Foods Market or a beer (for those 21+).

    Proceeds from the 5K benefit the Santa Rosa Recreation & Parks Scholarship Fund. Scholarships from this fund provide families in need the opportunity to participate in our recreation programs, including — and most often — swim lessons for children.

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    Annadel Half Marathon & 5k – 04/02/2016

    Annadel Half Marathon & 5k

    The Half Marathon course is a hilly, and technical course designed for the experienced trail runner looking for a challenge. Enjoy gorgeous scenery with green meadows, wild flowers, and variety of beautiful trees. The race starts at the Spring Lake swimming lagoon on a grassy field and winds through Spring Lake Park before climbing into Annadel State Park.The Annadel Half Marathon is a tough course with over 1,500 feet of elevation gain over rocky and rooted terrain. For more information about Annadel State Park visit:

    Annadel Half Marathon & 5k

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    Glass City Marathon – 04/24/2016

    Glass City Marathon 04/24/2016

    One of the fastest marathon courses in the Midwest, The Mercy Health Glass City Marathon (GCM) course will begin on Bancroft Street in front of the University of Toledo. Circle campus before heading West into beautiful Ottawa Hills. Heading north into the quiet neighborhoods of Old Orchard and Ottawa Hills, the course leads you to the area’s finest Metroparks system utilizing the University Parks bike Trail. A tour through Sylvania leads you to Olander Park, passing the statue of Sy Mah then back down the bike trail to a short tour of the UT campus concluding with the finish on Stadium Dr. outside the Glass Bowl. Events include the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon, Yark 5-person Marathon Relay, Owens Corning Half Marathon, and companion Medical Mutual 5K and Findley Davies Kids Marathon.

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    Monroe Milers 1 Mile Walk/Run – 02/25/2016

    Monroe Milers Running Club
    Monroe Milers Running Club

    [su_quote]Why: The money raised through this event will go to help keep the Monroe Milers running group running.

    What: The run/walk will be a one-mile loop starting and finishing at the church.

    Who we are: Monroe Milers is an all-volunteer run, high quality, developmentally appropriate urban youth running program. Over 8 weeks, kids train for a 5K race. Monroe Milers offers two training sessions, one in the fall, and one in the spring. Sessions are held twice week over the 8 week training period. At the end of each session participants run in a graduation race; Pumpkins in the Park 5K in the fall and the Flower City/Wegmans Family 5K in the spring. Every child that participates in the program is fitted for a pair of high quality running shoes once per school year, receives a t-shirt, free race entry, snacks and earns running related attendance awards. The program supports 50 Rochester city youths each session.

    Our Purpose: Through its involvement with neighborhood youth and their families, New Life Presbyterian Church identified and addressed a need for organized physical activity for children. Many youth involved in the church’s programs come from low-income, transient families which have neither the money nor the stability to enroll/involve their children in school based organized sports programs. To address this need, the church teamed up with Fleet Feet Rochester and the Upper Monroe Neighborhood Association to create the Monroe Milers.[/su_quote]

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