Maggie Rusch

Professional Triathlete

women's race to end cancer 8k

this morning was the women’s race to end cancer. while I had a decent race, loved the course winding down constitution and past the capital, what really struck me was the contrast. meaning that the race’s epicenter was in “freedom plaza” which, if you’ve been following the occupy wall street news any, is where a big crew of the occupy dc crowd is currently stationed.

even though it was 9am (10am if you don't count the time change), the occupy dc camp was dead quiet, a hoovertown of $500+ north face tents, the kinds that only the rich kids brought to summer camp. within 100yards was the stage for the race, where women were taking turns speaking about their own experiences, of their mothers, sisters, oved ones, battles against cancer--sometimes successful, other times, less so.

but the one thread running through these discussions that was most surprising was they they didn't "blame" cancer.

"it's up to you, yes you, to take action," spoke one of the women. "it's a hereditary disease... some call it a silent killer." she paused. "but it's not." the women on the podium went on to tell of her mother's experiences: the early signs, the doctor's visits, the incorrect diagnoses by doctors... until it was too late. her mother did not make it.

but she never blamed the doctors for the incorrect diagnosis. she never blamed the radiation for not doing its job. she didn't even blame cancer. instead, she challenged women to know the systems. to do the self-exams. to get a second opinion, and maybe even a third if your doctor doesn't see—or believe in—the signs. people like this amaze me. to not blame others when steps clearly could have prevented a horrible oversight - one that had it not happened, her mother would likely still be alive. instead, she issued a challenge: to stop cancer by knowing your risk, being diligent about prevention and knowing the early signs, just in case fate has other plans.

and here, these women are tackling cancer—their own, their loved ones—most likely in addition to their regular, make-you-go-crazy day jobs, never complaining about the hand they were dealt but stepping up to the awful challenge... and, unfortunately, thousands more women are forced to step up to the challenge on a daily basis. just being there today, it was an honor to run with these women, these survivors—and something that made this race extraordinarily special.

i want to take a moment to acknowledge just how WONDERFUL the women’s race to end cancer was. for starters, the race was two-thirds women so it was fun to run among the other cheering, bedazzled, purpled-out runners and walkers. but the icing on the cake was the flawless race day execution. it may have been one of the most pleasant, well run and fun races run to date.

from the crazy announcers at the start and finish (they called out almost every finisher, including some colorful commentary) to the flawless execution of packet pickup, not to mention the course support and amazing volunteer crew, this race was a blast. they even had a band at the finish festival that jammed out to alanis morrisette and a bunch of other girl-power type rock.

i ended up running the 8k in 38:xx, which made for 7:22 splits and i think 10th female overall but i was so busy high fiving some of the costumed spectators and thanking the volunteers that i wouldn't have cared if i ran a 48 or even 50.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/31829289 w=400&h=225]

National Race to End Women's Cancer - November 6, 2011 from Spark Media on Vimeo.

i guess this was intended to be a race report, but to be honest, from the moment i got there this morning, i realized this race was not about me, or any of the racers: it was for the women who are still out there stepping up to the challenge, fighting cancer and looking for early prevention and possibly a cure.

p.s. yes, the colors are a little weird - i got a little wild with instagram and couldn't stop myself...

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