Meet the MORE Half-Marathon Loyalists

Eight women have run or walked each of More’s 10 Central Park races. Three of them explain why they keep coming

by Nancy Stedman
marathon runner image
This photo, from Dixie Douville's fifth MORE race, hangs in her home office. She's run every race from the beginning.

They’re known as streakers—the eight women who’ve finished all 10 More racing events since the first Central Park marathon/half-marathon in 2004. One year the women competed in an epic downpour; the next year, they suffered through blistering heat. In the earliest events, they ran or walked alongside women who were mostly over 40; that changed to women of all ages when Fitness magazine joined the challenge in 2009. Over time, the length of the course also evolved. By 2012, More and Fitness decided it was simpler to limit the race to a half-marathon distance.

What hasn’t changed: The thrill of finishing a tough race. An incredible feeling of comraderie. And knowing that next year you can come back for More.

Here, we catch up with three of More’s streakers.

 

The Marathon Organizer

Dixie Douville recruited a group of 15 women to race in the first MORE marathon/half-marathon. Three of those racers, including Dixie, have competed in each of the last 10 events.

Dixie Douville (above)
Age: 50
Occupation: Sports medicine nurse; also teaches spinning classes
Where lives: Flanders, New Jersey

MORE: What inspired you to enter the first More marathon?
Dixie Douville: In the early 2000’s, I started running with a group of my girlfriends. Over the years, it became our time to share the challenges of our careers, worry about our kids’ college searches and celebrate our friendship. In 2003, I transformed this group into the Girlfriends in Training program, which provides coaching and encouragement to women who want to walk and run together. We brought 15 women to the first More marathon. We’d been running for two to three years but had never run together in a race as a group before.

MORE:  How many women have you been bringing to the More race?
DD: It’s different every year. We’ve swelled as high as 130. This year we had a bit over 40 people running. I was in the middle of a job change and couldn’t recruit as many as I usually do. And there are a good couple of dozen women trying different things such as cycling events. More was the first athletic event they’d ever attempted and that inspired them to try other things. Three of us have entered the More race each year.

MORE: You were written up five years ago in a More story about the race. How did people react to the article?
DD: Many women commented on how the story made them feel like they didn't need to be a hard-core athlete to challenge themselves with the event.  When they read the stories, they saw that the women featured were "real people" with "real lives."  That is also why I liked the story so much. Part of the Girlfriends in Training philosophy is that training should fit INTO your life, not necessarily BE your life.   

My husband had the article and picture blown up and framed for me for Mother's Day. It is in my home office with all of my medals hanging from the top corners of the frame. It serves as a reminder to me that the More races have had a significant influence on the course of my personal and professional pursuits in life.

MORE: Have you competed in other races?
DD: Yes. I’ve done 23 marathons and I don’t know how many half-marathons.

MORE: What’s special about the More event?
DD: Because it’s an all-women event, there’s a sister feeling that doesn’t happen in others. In my group, we talk and don’t really compete. We meet other women. I’ve run a lot of races but I come back to this one because of the connections I make while running. It has become a part of who I am.

MORE: In the More article, you said: “My favorite part of every race comes when I do a cartwheel in the final few hundred yards.” Did you do a cartwheel after the 2013 race?
DD: Yes!

MORE: What was your favorite More event?
DD: I think it was my first. When we went it was very small. It was the first all-women race anyone had been in and that inspired us to come back. It was a special day. We’d been running for two to three years but had never run together in a race as a group before.

MORE: Least favorite More race?
DD: One year I got injured at mile 5. Typically after I finish the race, I run backwards on the outside so I can look for women with our T-shirts. I couldn’t do that when I was injured. I didn’t finish with the usual sense of finality.

MORE: How about the year it rained really hard?
DD: That was a blast. The year before it had been 90 degrees. So this time we were just glad it wasn’t hot.

MORE: Future plans?
DD: I’m hoping that More continues to hold the race because it’s a great event. At some point I’m hoping to outlast my age group and take the podium [as a winner] when I’m 80. And I’ll still do a cartwheel when I’m done.

The Half-Marathon Walker

Ten years ago, a fluke cancellation propelled Linda Pelkofer to Central Park one spring. She’s been competing in the MORE race ever since.

Linda Pelkofer (right, during her 10th MORE half-marathon)
Age: 63
Occupation: Realtor
Where live: Pittsburgh, PA

MORE: Why did you enter the first More marathon and half-marathon?
Linda Pelkofer: In January 2003, I read on the local sports page that you were allowed to walk in the Pittsburgh marathon. Even though I had never been athletic, this sounded like fun to me. So I signed up for a training program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and took part in a portion of the Pittsburgh marathon. But a few months later, officials canceled the next year’s Pittsburgh marathon because of budgetary constraints. Then I came across a little blurb in the sports section of the local newspaper saying something like, “Pittsburgh is canceled but if you want to, you can be in the More inaugural marathon/half-marathon for women over 40.” The age caught my attention. During the first few More events, you were allowed to race with an under-40 partner. So I told my daughter, “We’re going!” Penny said that for a free trip to New York City, she would do anything!

MORE: What was the race like?
LP: It was wonderful. There were perhaps a couple thousand racers. It was unique because it was for women over 40. It was so different from what it is now, where the majority are younger women.

I felt like it was such an accomplishment to walk 13.1 miles for the first time at the age of 53. 

And I just continued to keep entering the race year after year.

MORE: Did you ever come close to missing a race?
LP: The first year that race officials capped the number of participants, I went to register for the event and it was closed. I called the New York Road Runners Club. I told them I wanted to be in this race because I was not about to ruin my streak, and they managed to fit me in. Now I sign up the first day of registration.

MORE: What’s special about the More event?
LP: The fact that it’s all women. Every year as I walk around, I’m with women in the vicinity of my age. You walk and chat with a few and then you move on. We encourage each other.

MORE: What’s your goal when you race?
LP: I’m in it to finish. How many people in America can walk 13.1 miles?

Because I’m not walking at a really fast pace, I can talk to other people.

MORE: What was your favorite More race?
LP: The year my friend and I along with our two daughters dressed in Steeler football jerseys cause they won the Superbowl.

MORE: Least favorite?
LP: It was the time it got up to 90 degrees. Also the year it poured. Water came into my shoes.

MORE: Are you going to keep entering the races?
LP: I will continue to do this for as long as I can.

The Half-Marathon Runner

With her sister-in-law in tow, Karen Loveys has laughed her way through all 10 half-marathons

Karen Loveys (right, in blue, with sister-in-law Alice Beisse at the 2013 finish line wearing all 10 medals)
Age: 52
Occupation: Administrative assistant for a church
Where Live: Randolph, New Jersey

MORE: Tell us about your first time.
Karen Loveys: Ten years ago, a friend named Dixie [Douville; read her story here NEED LINK] gathered a group of women to commit to the challenge of running in the first women's half-marathon in New York City. I loved the idea, especially because it was supposed to be for women over 40. My sister-in-law Alice Beisser, better known to all who love her as Lollie, joined me, as she has for all the races.

For that first race, there was nothing for any of us to worry about. Dixie took care of getting our bid numbers, picking up our goodie bags, providing transportation to and from the event. She even supplied a bagged lunch for the return home. All we had to do was show up and run.

MORE: What’s your training routine?
KL: I do not have a runner's discipline. I will find any excuse I can to not go out for a run. Oh, it's snowing, what a shame. Phone's ringing, better grab that. This winter in particular, it was a real challenge to get outside and run. When I run outside I commit to my 5-mile run each and every time I go out. I do not stop and I do not turn around to head home. I always feel great when I arrive back home. As much as it may sound like I do not enjoy running, that is not true. I get great satisfaction from running. Training for this half-marathon, I made sure to run a 9-mile loop at least three separate times. I am never really ready for the actual race, but getting in a few 9-mile runs does help my psyche.

MORE: What is it like to run the half-marathon?
KL: The first loop is basically not that difficult. My body is very happy running seven miles. It's during the next six that my mind and body want to revolt and I think of throwing in the towel. Running Central Park is not a cake run. There are several challenging hills. Each and every year I forget how challenging they are on the second loop. I always say to myself, "I don't remember it being this steep. Where did this hill erupt from? It wasn't here before?" I'll never forget during year one, running up the hill very slowly and pathetically, when all of a sudden a women who looked to be in her 70's ran effortlessly past us on the hill. I thought to myself, "What the …?" After that, I realized if she can do it at her age I could too, so I sucked it up and kept running!

MORE: Are you a quick runner?
KL: I met my husband, the only man I have ever loved, in the 3rd grade, when he picked me to be on his kickball team—over Andy Wetmore, might I add. "Hey, she's fast!" he said after Andy and all the other boys protested. Maybe I was way back when, but I am certainly the furthest thing from fast now. I run, more like I jog, not for any time, but just to finish.

Now, our youngest daughter [of four kids], who’s in the 6th grade, is a runner. Her fastest time is a 5:45 mile. I never have and never will run a mile at that pace, but watching her brings so much joy and pride.

MORE: What inspires you to keep running?
KL: The first person who comes to mind is my dad. He remembers running the New York City marathon in its early years, in 1974. There were only a few hundred runners that participated back then. After the race they were each given a locker in the local YMCA so they could shower and change. Could you imagine? I wish I had gone to see him cross that finish line but I never made the trip in with him. My dad was a teacher and a coach, but he had to stop running a while back because of phlebitis.

Running with Lollie each year has been the best. Now, she is a runner. She has the look and the discipline. I can't thank her enough for her patience and her unwavering willingness to stick by my side. She could run at a much quicker pace. I know I hold her back, but she would never even think of leaving my side. We stick together each and every year. We talk the entire race. I know for a fact, in years past when I have had a doozy of a story to share, many runners just hang around us, just to have me finish the story and hear it.

Lollie is the one that keeps me going those last three miles. I swear they lie when they say it's three miles to go. It feels like five! But when we start to hear the music and see the crowds get thicker, we know we are close to that finish line, and that is why we are here, to finish. We grab each other's hands and raise them high in the air as we cross the finish line. We act as if we won the race, and in some sense we have. We did it. We won. I may not be a pretty runner to watch, especially at the end, but I do it, because I can.

First Published Mon, 2013-05-13 14:02

Find this story at:

http://www.more.com/health/fitness/meet-more-half-marathon-loyalists