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Team GSF SB Marathon a SUCCESS!

November 14, 2011 by Bill Strong
Team GSF SB Marathon a SUCCESS!

To say Team GSF Santa Barbara Marathon was a success is an understatement. $52,000 raised. 431 donors. 36 Team Sponsors. Relay, Half, and Full Marathons completed -- many setting their personal best times or running for the first time. 30 runners wearing Team GSF NEVER GIVE UP. race jerseys. Crowds chanting "Never Give Up." to rally our team on throughout the entire course. Constant questions about why we were running, what we are about, and how they can get involved. Big article about Team GSF in Sunday's newspaper. Successful? Absolutely! And such a positive experience for everyone involved.

On Friday night we brought all the runners and their families together for a pre-race celebration at the Canary Hotel. And it was a well-earned celebration indeed. Months of training. Weeks of fundraising. Goals surpassed. The energy and enthusiasm was palpable. And we were thrilled to have the opportunity to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication to the SMA cause. And, of course, load them up on carbs and rally them for the next day's race. The 30 runners each made a difference. They each have their own stories and they each sacraficed to be part of the SB Marathon. From first time racers to seasoned pros; those impacted by SMA directly to those who were new to the cause; those who used this as further weight loss motivation to those who wanted to do something to help; they were in their 20s to a relay team ("Team Gwendolyn") with a combined age of 250+ years. But they all made the commitment. And they all did it. And we could not be more honored that they all decided to run for theGSF.

What was forecast to be a stormy day, turned into a day of gorgeous skies and perfect running weather. Over 5,500 people were part of the Santa Barbara International Marathon, but Team GSF stood out in the crowd. The half marathon and full were at different start places but converged mid-way through the race -- right when the big hills to the finish line started. That was when the going got tough. Team GSF cheerleaders with NEVER GIVE UP. signs were dotted throughout the course, but a big group of Team GSF supporters were positioned at mile 22 of the Marathon -- mile 9 for the Half -- to help encourage the runners on. And everyone seemed to get an additional boost to push up that daunting 3/4 mile hill before heading towards the ocean for the finish line.

On a personal note, the whole marathon experience -- my first -- was nothing short of incredible. From start to finish it was like an out-of-body experience and the positive euphoria of the day has still yet to truly settle in. There was something magical about battling through 26.2 miles knowing that 30 of us were pushing ourselves along the same course for the SMA cause, proudly wearing theGSF NEVER GIVE UP. jersey, knowing together we raised over $50,000 to fight this brutal disease. 30 people who sacrificed and made the commitment to make a difference -- to run so one day those with SMA can too! The support from the crowd was awesome and there was nothing more motivating than hearing spectators and course volunteers (including an entire fire department) with no tie to our organization cheering and yelling -- Keep it up! NEVER GIVE UP. -- as I ran past. Seeing Victoria and Gwendolyn and our friends at critical times in the race was invaluable to staying positive. I ended up running the whole race with my friend Mike Paskin and that was something I'll never forget. The race went relatively smoothly for me and I'm proud of my performance, but I started cramping in my calves/quads pretty early  -- around mile 15. That was something that I had never experienced before and it was definitely an unexpected curveball. Mike was having some nasty cramping as well so we leaned on one another through the remainder of the race to get through. Overall, I think it's safe to say that finishing my first marathon was by far the most physically challenging thing that I've ever accomplished -- there really isn't a close second. I'm unbelievably proud of all the Team GSF runners for finishing and I'm also pretty darn proud of myself. It's something that I'll never, ever forget. And seeing Gwendolyn so excited to see me, so animated each time I gave her kisses throughout the race, and so proud to wear my medal to the after-party, well, that leaves me speechless.

 

We're already building a team for next year's Santa Barbara Marathon -- that's Relay Teams (4 people running 4, 5, 8 and 9 miles respectively), Half Marathoners (13.1 miles), and Full Marathoners (26.2 miles). Join us! Most of this year's runners are already enthusiastically in. Be part of Team GSF in Santa Barbara... or turn a race near you into a Team GSF fundraising event and help end SMA with every mile. You have a year to train and encourage others to join you. And we know you will be glad you did. 2012 SB Marathon and races across the country -- here we come! Running so one day those with SMA can too!

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