Marquette Half Marathon = Congrats Sue on 100!

Disclaimer:  This is not going to be my typical race recap.  Running the Marquette Half Marathon this year was not about me.  It was not about speed.  It was about celebrating a huge milestone with a great friend and her mission.

Inspiring People I meet: Episode 2 – Sue Girard-Jackson

It’s no secret that virtually every runner has goals.

For some it is to run a specific distance, some a time. Others it’s about destinations.  For most however, it is usually about pushing yourself further than you ever had before.  A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to run the Marquette Marathon with a friend who has accomplished something that most runners only dream of.  She completed her 100th half marathon!

I met Sue 4 years ago when I was running the same half marathon.  We met briefly during the first few miles of the race and then ended up running together for a few miles in the middle.  From that point on, we started stalking each other on Facebook, following each others running journey and cheering each other on.  Over the last few years, we ran some of the same races, but never ended up actually meeting up with each other.  We realized that we both started our half marathon adventure about the same time.  Her first half was the Marquette half in 2010, while my first half was the Fox Cities half of the same year.  Both races are just a few weeks apart!  Since then, I completed 43 half marathon… Sue took it to the next level and completed 99, with 100 being Marquette in 8 short years!  When I found out that this was #100, I knew that I HAD to be there to run this with her!

What drove Sue to run that many half marathons in that short time frame?  Yes, part of it was the challenge to do something big, but it was also about doing something bigger than her.  The son of one of Sue’s good friends has been battling ALS for the last four year.  Some of you may know Tim Shaw from his NFL days.  His career was cut short when he received his ALS diagnosis in 2014. Since then Sue has been running for Tim and raising fund and awareness for this debilitating disease. At one point, this running machine completed 60 half marathons in 18 months!  52 of those 60 half marathons were between June 2016 to July 2017!!  Yes,averages out to about a half marathon a week!

ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. At this point, there is no known cure. The life expectancy of a person with ALS averages two to five years from the time of diagnosis.  It is people like Sue and their determination that is bringing awareness to this disease and helping to find a cure.  Tim is also determined to do everything he can to fight this battle with purpose and determination. (For more on Tim’s story, check out this video)

The morning of the Marquette Half Marathon, we headed into town to catch the shuttle bus to the start line, picking up Sue’s Daughter-in-law Sarah who was going to also be running with us.  Since both the half and full marathons are point to point races, all runners either need to be dropped off at the start line, or take a shuttle out from the Barry Events Center in town (preferred).  We laughed because Sue actually lives a few miles from where the half starts, but because of the extra travel to catch the shuttle, after being gone from home for an hour, we were driving almost right past her house again!  LOL

Once race started, Sarah and I told Sue that she was in charge.  We were following Yoda (Sarah’s name for Sue, who has been her running mentor for the last several years).  We were running when she ran, walking when she walked and if she says we need to dance… well, we dance!

The course for the half marathon follows the old iron ore trail and, aside from a few small rolling hill in beginning is relatively flat.  In fact, the majority of the course is actually DOWNHILL!!

We spent the next few hours running, laughing, walking and having fun.  It was awesome to hear all the congratulations from other runners to Sue as she ran past and they were able to read the race bib that was attached to the back of her shirt!  She was inspiring for everyone that she saw!

The course for this race is beautiful!  As I mentioned, it follows the Heritage Trail (the old iron ore trail) and winds past quiet ponds, fields and the serenity of Upper Michigan.  It was easy to get lost in everything around you and just forget about the rest of the world for a while…. and then you remember you are running.  Running for something bigger than you!

After mile 7, the trail takes you into Marquette.  The second half of the race takes your through downtown Marquette, along the lake shore and marina and then around into downtown.  Sue’s family caught us at a few point along the course to cheer us on and get some pictures of Sue’s epic milestone race.

The only real hill that you climb over the entire 13.1 miles is during the final half mile of the race.  Yes, after running either downhill or on a flat trail for 12.5 miles, they put the finish line at the top of the hill on 3rd street!  By this time, there were a few aches and pains popping up, but we conquered that hill with everything we had left.

Crossing that finish line with Sue and Sarah was something I will never forget!  Sue is a running machine that has turned her running into something more than just covering the miles.  It’s about awareness and doing something better than her.   It was an honor to run those miles with her.

Upon finishing the race, Sue was met by a reports from the local tv station for a (not so quick) interview!    You can watch the video clip from the news here.

Sue’s mission is not over!  At the end of the month, she will be traveling to Nashville to walk a 1 mile event with her inspiration, Tim Shaw.  To learn more about her mission and donate to her amazing cause, head over to her website!

I am excited to see what Sue does next!  She has not stopped running ,or even slowed down.  Since we ran this race together last month, she has competed 2 more half marathons and has more on the calendar!

Congrats Sue on  your 100+ half marathons and can’t wait to run with you again!



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