Marathon runners raise money for Talbot Humane
EASTON — Barbara Biddle of Easton admits she is not an athlete. And as an English teacher at Sts. Peter and Paul High School, she spends a good deal of time sitting as she plans lessons and grades papers.
But the 53-year-old wife and mother of three mostly grown children decided to “go all out for the animals” and train with the Talbot Unleashed running club for the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon on Saturday, Oct. 22, to raise money for Talbot Humane.
After 33 weeks of training that stretched her beyond what she dreamed she could accomplish, Biddle crossed the finish line. And waiting for her at the end of her seven-hour, 26.2-mile run/ walk was a young Marine with a heavy medal embossed with the globe and eagle logo, a congratulatory hug and a hearty “Oorah!”
“It was awesome, it really was,” Biddle said. “The Marines just put on a good run. The fact that you did the Marine Corps Marathon puts you in an elite group.”
Patty Cranshaw-Quimby agreed. She is the executive director of Talbot Humane, 7894 Ocean Gateway, Easton, and Talbot County’s chief animal control officer. She is a marathon runner herself, but only for the past five years. “I was the poster child of couch potatoes,” she said.
“The honor of Talbot Humane being a first-time charity partner for the 42nd Marine Corps Marathon, coupled with the privilege of running — and finishing — the race, was certainly a bucket list experience personally and professionally,” Cranshaw-Quimby said.
“Training and raising funds for five months, the Talbot Unleashed team and our coaches gave their heart, blood, sweat and tears, raising just shy of $31,000 this season,” Cranshaw-Quimby said.
“We are grateful not only to the runners, coaches and donors for supporting Talbot Humane, but also for the opportunity to share this experience with our community,” she said. “Other than the Head to Tail Thrift and Vintage Shop, the marathon has become our biggest fundraiser.”
“Patty is an off-the-charts special person who really changes a lot of lives,” said Talbot County Councilman Chuck Callahan of Easton, whose first marathon was the 2017 MCM with Talbot Unleashed.
Encouraged by his girlfriend, Julie Fickes, an experienced marathoner herself and an Unleashed coach, Callahan said, “When you have a girlfriend who’s a marathon runner, you better prepare yourself.”
Callahan, 51, president of West and Callahan custom building company, said as the participants gathered for the marathon, he was in the middle of about 30,000 runners. “I got so damned nervous, it was unbelievable. I don’t know why.”
Callahan finished the MCM in a little over five and a half hours, averaging about 12 minutes per mile. Although he was Maryland State Gymnastics champion in 1978 and 1980, and an ice hockey coach for 14 years, he had never run before.
“Julie is extremely proud of me,” he said. “We had our moments, though. I was trying to keep a leash on her because we were packed so tight. I’d lose her and figure, well, she’s gone. But we were holding hands across the finish line.”
Both Callahan and Biddle were inspired by the MCM’s “Blue Mile,” a section at the 10-mile mark lined with photos of Marines who were killed in action. In contrast to the boisterous cheering from encouraging spectators along the marathon’s route, the Blue Mile is marked by a quiet reverence.
“When you see something like that, it gives you goosebumps,” Callahan said. “It brings to heart what people do for the U.S. It inspires you to keep going.”
This is the first year Talbot Humane qualified for the MCM charity partnership program. Talbot Unleashed coach Amy Eutsey said the charity was required to fill two-thirds of 80 runners’ bibs and pay a partnership fee. Each runner buys his or her $160 bib and agrees to raise a minimum of $500 for the shelter. Fundraising goals are reduced the longer runners are with the team.
Talbot Unleashed had 42 runners complete the marathon. The oldest was 60-something Sara Rhoades, who had never run until five years ago.
Emily Hagy, the top fundraising runner at just over $3,000, won a one-week vacation in Cape Hatteras, N.C., “generously donated by a friend of Talbot Humane,” Eutsey said.
“The back of our racing singlets read ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.’ The MCM has a five-hour time limit to reach the 14th St. Bridge at Mile 20 before it is reopened to traffic,” Eutsey said.
“If you’re not to the bridge by ‘13:15,’ you’re not allowed to finish. All our runners made it across the bridge, but we dealt with a lot of angst during the training season. We can laugh about it now,” she said.
In 2002, Eutsey moved to Easton and ran her first marathon, and eventually started the charity marathon training club in Easton at the suggestion of her husband, Dwayne, 10 years later. Crankshaw-Quimby joined the 20 members of the fledgling running club.
“Patty was sold on it the first season,” said Eutsey, who also is the donor database administrator and volunteer coordinator for Talbot Humane.
In five years, Talbot Unleashed has more than doubled its membership to about 50. “Pretty much ever yone is a novice,” Eutsey, who is a 50-year-old mother of three, said. “Only eight or 10 have actually run a marathon before.”
Eutsey and her fellow coaches employ a physical conditioning program that “works for novice runners, weekend warriors and seasoned athletes,” according to the Talbot Unleashed webpage.
Runners like Biddle began the 2017 program on March 11 with a free, 10-week “couch to 5K” preconditioning program that takes novices and those who haven’t run for a long time from a mile to three miles.
“I am not an athlete. I don’t know what got into me,” Biddle said. “I just wanted to see if I could do it. I had to raise $500, and I made my goal and got a little over.”
The 23-week MCM training schedule began the week of May 20 with runners alternating days of daily cross training and resting, 30- to 45-minute runs/walks and one day of rest before joining the team on Saturday mornings for increasingly longer runs.
Organizing a full marathon team is “an extreme amount of work,” Eutsey said.
“It’s quite a production,” Biddle said. Along the training route, volunteers dispense water and pep talks. At the end of the run, snacks and food are provided to the pace groups.
The distance of the first Saturday run/walk through Easton was 3 miles.
“It’s not a race, it’s an assessment to gauge each runner’s pace,” Eutsey said. “Based on their fitness level, we set up pace groups of people you run with on Saturdays. They have a lot of fun.”
Each Saturday’s distance increased incrementally until the team finished 12 miles on July 8. The number of miles varied after week 12, alternating between longer and shorter runs until the team completed 23 miles on Sept. 30.
“I’m a firm believer that a lot of the barriers to going to the full marathon is your own self-talk. It’s believing in yourself,” Eutsey said. “As the miles increase each week, part of the challenge is training the brain, what I call training the nerve, because you have to talk yourself through some pretty rough spots — from about mile 18 or 20 to the end. It can be a struggle, it really can.”
“If it were easy, everybody would be doing this,” Eutsey said.
Even on days when the heat and humidity were not oppressive, the early Saturday morning runs through Easton still were grueling.
Biddle’s eight-member pace group ran “all over town,” Biddle said. “Ever yone in three counties can see all of us sweating and panting.”
At the 16-mile training mark, Biddle panicked. “I sat in the car and had an anxiety attack,” she said. “I said, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this,’ but then — I did it.”
“It think that’s what makes Unleashed really, really special,” Eutsey said. “You get some people who are like, ‘This is possible because we respect Talbot Humane, we respect their mission, we respect the fact that we have several coaches that have run lots and lots of marathons, and they really believe I can do it, so I’m going to give myself a chance and believe I can do it.’”
“We’re as much a family as we are a team,” Eutsy said. “A lot of our runners make new friends, lifelong friends. There’s a truism: While we’re out on the trail, we talk about life. When we go out to dinner, all we talk about is running.”
Biddle and Callahan say they probably will not participate in the MCM next year. “But I wouldn’t say I’ll never do it again,” Callahan said.
Also known as the People’s Marathon, “the mission of the Marine Corps Marathon is to promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill and showcase the organizational skills of the United States Marine Corps,” according to www.marinemarathon.com.
“Organized by the men and women of the United States Marine Corps, the MCM is the largest marathon in the world that doesn’t offer prize money, instead celebrating the honor, courage and commitment of all finishers,” the MCM website states.
For more information about the work of Talbot Humane and Talbot Unleashed, visit www. talbothumane.org.
Follow me on Twitter @connie_stardem.
Talbot Humane Executive Director Patty Cranshaw-Quimby and Talbot Unleashed charity marathon coach Amy Eutsey led a team of runners who raised $31,000 for Talbot Humane at the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 22.
Wearing their Marine Corps Marathon medals are, from left, Ann Jacobs, Julie Hanes, Sara Rhoades, Christie Woodard, Cheri Baron, Patty Crankshaw-Quimby, Ashley Chroniger, Brandi Gavin, Peyton Logeman and Nicole Benchoff VanHekle.
Barbara Biddle shows off her medal.
Julie Fickes, one of Talbot Unleashed’s coaches, crossed the finish line holding hands with her boyfriend, Chuck Callahan.
Talbot Unleashed’s Cheri Baron points to the back of the running team’s racing singlet, which reads, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” The bridge is the 14th St. Bridge at Mile 20 that Marine Corps Marathoners must reach by “13:15,” or within the five-hour time limit, before it is reopened to traffic. If they do not cross the bridge by then, they are not allowed to finish.
Talbot County Councilman Chuck Callahan ran his first full marathon with Talbot Unleashed at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22.