From Akron to Columbus: a Tale of Two Marathons - Mercy Medical Center

From Akron to Columbus: a Tale of Two Marathons

Posted on: November 6, 2013

I am always excited see members of the Mercy team take on wellness challenges that push them to achieve even greater levels of fitness. This past September, two employees and one contractor participated in the Akron Marathon and its five-person team relay. One went on to compete in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon on October 20, ranked by Runner’s World as one of the top 20 marathons in the United States.

David Gormsen, DO, Mercy’s chief medical officer and a life-long runner, competed in the Akron relay with his son JP as part of a team called the 4 Buckeyes & a Nittany Lion. Dr. Gormsen ran the first leg of the relay (four miles) and brought the “baton” – a slap bracelet – to his teammate in an elite time of 33:38. The team finished 101 out of 851 relay teams, which is quite an accomplishment!

The Akron Marathon was the first full marathon for Dan Williams, a personal trainer and Mercy contractor who teaches boot camp classes in the hospital’s fitness center. He covered those long 26.2 miles in 3:47:56, which is an exceptional pace of 8:42 minutes per mile, and placed 341 out of 1,667 total marathon runners and 275 out of 1,035 males.

He believes it was the best thing he’s ever done. He says, “The entire experience and the race was amazing. I can’t wait to do my next one.”

Employee Gains Inner Strength from Running, Passes It On

Kathy Ruppert from Mercy Medical Affairs also took part in the relay with Nectar Team 2 as a “warm up” for her marathon debut in the Columbus race. She ran the longest leg of the relay at 7.78 miles and finished with an impressive time of 1:38:51 (a 12:42 pace). Her team finished with a total time of 5:11:09.

Kathy says she is doing this for herself, but also to benefit Mercy’s Girls on the Run Sole Mates (GOTR) team, which pairs “running buddies” like Kathy with young female runners in a Canton City elementary school. In addition to coaching and encouraging the girls, Kathy and other buddies use their own running as an opportunity to raise donations for GOTR scholarships.

In her own words, Kathy describes her experience with GOTR, as well as the Columbus Marathon:

All of our GOTR girls are able to participate only due to the generosity of others. This program is extremely important for the physical and mental health of young ladies. I have learned and been able to teach our girls that if you can get up the hill on mile ten of the Canton Marathon or complete your first 5K, there is nothing you can’t do. After training for the marathon, I will have even more to offer the kids if I am fortunate enough to be able to coach again.

Prior to the Columbus Marathon, a seven-hour race, I had done three half-marathons. Considering my pace, I wondered if I could do a full.

However, I had missed a lot of time with my family and taken vacation days to train, so I had to try. Runner and Columbus Marathon entrant Bob Common helped me find a nice pace that resulted in more running and less walking. Plus, my co-worker Therese Esmont was so supportive and, as with previous races, came to Columbus to cheer me on.

The hardest part of the marathon was passing the half-way point and not turning down that road to the half-marathon finish. I was still OK but having some pain and fatigue. My iPhone died, so I had no clue of my time, but I didn’t worry because Bob was in charge of that.

At about mile 17, I was done running and planned on walking it in. Bob, to his credit, let me make my decisions. He said, ‘I’ve got nothing to prove,’ and I answered, ‘Actually you do.’ At mile 20, everyone got the text that my ETA would be 3:14, which would have been too late. Little did they know that the police car was right behind me. I learned if we didn’t stay ahead, I would be disqualified and lose the medal. I looked at Bob and said, ‘I guess I better run a bit.’

Another runner named Adrian dashed up with us, and Bob coached the two of us through. As I passed people who were hurting and about to be disqualified, my heart broke. But I couldn’t stop there and go home to my family that had been so generous to let me train and go away for the weekend. I imagined the cheers of my family and friends and heard the encouraging words of the best coach there is, and I pushed on. I don’t think quitting entered my mind again.

When I got to the end, Therese, her daughter Corrine and dog Marley, and marathon finisher Angel Webster and husband Scott were there for me. And it was a great moment to cross the finish line with Bob!

Thanks to all of you who encouraged me, believed in me and worried about me! This truly was a once in a lifetime experience.

I congratulate Kathy, Dr. Gormsen and Dan Williams on their outstanding accomplishments with these marathon events. Each one, in their own way, is a testimony to the power of exercise and its mental, emotional and physical benefits.

If you’re ready to take your exercise or weight-loss regimen to the next level, Mercy’s weight management, sports medicine and health & fitness programs can help! All services are conveniently located for residents of Canton, Massillon and other communities in and around Stark County, Ohio.

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