Most first-time marathoners are emotional after finishing the race. For Lindsey Elder, crossing the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon will be particularly poignant. Two years ago, her father did not make it to the end. William Dale Elder, 54, suffered a heart attack two miles into the race and died. He was the fourth runner to die in the 26-year history of the marathon.
Lindsey, a 25-year-old from Baltimore who had hoped one day to run a marathon with her father, will run her first marathon in his memory.
"I think the actual race, I'll be fine," Lindsey said. "Afterward, I probably will cry."
Elder, who went by his middle name, Dale, underwent triple-bypass surgery in 1987 after suffering his first heart attack. Following the surgery, he watched what he ate and exercised more. He started competing in 5K and 10K races and finished the Marine Corps Marathon in 1998.
Lindsey, an avid runner, often ran with her father. She was on her way to Washington to celebrate the completion of his second marathon on Oct. 22, 2000, when her brother Shawn called with the news he had died.
"It was two years ago, but talking about him still makes me upset," Lindsey said, choking back tears. "A year ago, it was too fresh. I didn't think I could [run in the marathon]. I decided this year I'm going to do it."
Her brother will be there Sunday to offer support. Her mother, Gail, however, is reluctant to see her daughter undertake such a grueling race.
"My mom is not too happy," Lindsey said. "She's afraid of me running."
Lindsey was proud of her father for running marathons. She couldn't wait to share the experience with him. Not having him running with her across the finish line will make the end of the race bittersweet.
"I'm definitely not doing it for time," Lindsey said. "I'm doing it for him."
Pain Is a Good Thing
Tammy Chaney's doctor can't explain how a woman who two years ago was expected to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life is running in the Marine Corps Marathon -- her second marathon since the accident.
Chaney, a police officer with the Knoxville (Tenn.) City Police Department, was participating in a riot training exercise on March 20, 2000, when she was accidentally struck in the head. Her neck snapped, causing swelling and bruising in her spinal column.
After three days at the University of Tennessee trauma unit, Chaney regained feeling in her upper extremities, but not her legs. She was transferred to a rehabilitation center and stayed for three weeks.
When the doctor told her family that Chaney might never walk again, Chaney's mother refused to let him share that information with her daughter. Meantime, her family prepared itself for the worst.
"My mother and husband didn't hold out a lot of hope that I'd ever walk again," Chaney said.
Chaney zealously attacked her rehab. In June, she walked across the stage and graduated with her class from the training academy. She wasn't satisfied with walking, however. Before the accident, Chaney had been training to run her first marathon and was devastated to miss the race.
"I had trained so hard for that," Chaney said. "I hated to start from scratch, but that was a goal I had."
Joined by eight members of the Knoxville Police Department's Special Operations Squad who had supported her throughout her recovery, Chaney ran the Chicago Marathon last year in 5 hours 6 minutes.
"When I saw the one-mile-to-go sign, not only was I relieved I was real emotional," Chaney said. "When I crossed the finish line, I was crying."
Chaney has lingering nerve damage from the accident -- a problem she gladly tolerates, considering the alternative.
"It gets really hard around the 17th, 18th mile," Chaney said. "I get pain in my spine, in my lower back.. . . . I'm like, 'Thank God. Here it is.' I can feel that. That's a good thing."
Off the Couch, Onto the Road
Jean Marmoreo and her husband, Bob Ramsey, were so taken by the Marine Corps Marathon when they ran it last year that they decided to host a potluck dinner last January at their Toronto condominium to entice friends to join them in this year's race. They never expected the response they got.
What started out as 50 women looking to try something new has grown into the 100-runner contingent known as Jean's Marines. The majority of Jean's Marines are middle-aged women with little or no running experience. They come from a variety of backgrounds and include a magazine editor, police commissioner and former Toronto mayor.
"Most of the women came off the couch," said Marmoreo, a physician and midlife women's specialist. "When they met in January, they did not do physical fitness."
In order to prepare the novice marathoners, Marmoreo organized training sessions with the help of a running store chain.
As her numbers grew, Marmoreo decided Jean's Marines needed a worthy cause to support. She chose Give Girls A Chance, an organization that encourages girls' education around the world.They have raised $21,000 so far.
Ex-Patient Comes Full Circle
When he was 12 years old, Brian Doyle discovered he had leukemia. Now, 17 years later, Doyle is running in the Marine Corps Marathon to benefit the hospital that saved his life.
Doyle and his wife are part of the St. Jude Runners, who raise money to help patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. Doyle was treated at that hospital, receiving radiation and chemotherapy for 21/2 years. In 1989, he underwent a bone marrow transplant. Since then, he has lived a full and healthy life.
The money raised for St. Jude goes toward research and patient care. Because no child is refused treatment based on his or her family's financial situation, "my family never had to pay for anything," said Doyle, who is now an associate director for fundraising at the hospital's St. Louis office. "Because I'm a former patient, [running in the marathon is] just something I wanted to do."
26.2 Miles Is the Easy Part
To most people, traveling more than 18 hours by plane is a marathon. To Douglas Scott, it is just the precursor to one. Scott, a cardiologist in Auckland, New Zealand, flew into Washington last night. He will run the marathon, then fly back to New Zealand on Sunday. He undertook the ordeal to support a friend's daughter, who is running her first marathon.
"She was keen for some support so I thought it would be a nice thing to do," said Scott, whose busy hospital schedule is the reason for the short stay.
Scott, who ran the marathon three years ago during his two-year fellowship at Georgetown, is more concerned about the time difference than the lengthy travel.
"It will be like running at 2 a.m.," Scott said.
Oldest Runner Hits 150
It is hard to determine what is more remarkable: that Carleton Mendell, at 81, is the oldest runner in this year's Marine Corps Marathon or that Mendell will be running his 150th marathon.
Mendell, a retired Air Force pilot who flew combat missions in World War II, didn't start running marathons until he turned 56. He always had been an athlete, playing football at Western Maryland College in the '40s.
"Well, you move up," Mendell said. "First thing, you start with a 5K race then somebody says we've got a 10K race down here. Then you go to a 10-miler. Next thing you know, I ended up in a 48-hour race."
When he was in his early sixties, Mendell won a 24-hour race, beating every age group by running 1251/2 miles.
He said the secret to his longevity is going slow, not fast.
"It was all long, slow distance training," he said. "That's kept me injury free."