Another interesting week in both the SMA and endurance sports worlds. Just like last week, I have a bunch of things to discuss. First, I’ll briefly discuss a couple of updates on Spinal Muscular Atrophy (“SMA”), and then I’ll summarize some interesting races that went down over the weekend.
At DAWS, we realize that there are a number of charities that are dialed in to fighting SMA – the number one genetic killer of kids under the age of two in the world. Each charity has its own niche – it’s own way of fitting in to the fight. Since DAWS was founded by a group of runners that united for a common goal, our niche within this fight is raising awareness and donations through fund raisers that are geared toward running to assist with research and help families. When other SMA charities announce something interesting, it’s in the best interests of the overall fight against this disease to share such news with anyone that reads this blog. So without further adieu, here we go:
DAWS: our current event – a virtual 5k simply called The Fourth Awakens – is currently underway! We only have a few spots left, and the medal for this event is extremely cool! All net proceeds go to the fight against SMA. Fundraisers such as this resulted or ability to donate $5,000 to Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s SMA Clinic to assist with research and provide necessary items to SMA families. Please check out our home page for the race details before time runs out! (www.doawaywothsma.org)
Fight SMA: held it’s annual Research Conference from April 7th – 9th in Alexandria, VA. It was their most successful conference to date, with over 40 researcher from across the globe coming together to share their results and advance the progress toward a cure.
Cure SMA: issued 3 additional research grants were issued, helping in the fight for a cure.
The SMA Trust: a U.K.-based charity has several challenge events on the calendar – I’ll mention them below.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy Support U.K.: Another great U.K.-based charity, they just issued a new book called SMA Type 2 and Me, which is written for children and provides a basic understanding of the disease.
Upcoming SMA Events
April 24th 2016: If you happen to be in London, check out the London Marathon…because the SMA Trust will have a few runners toeing the line to raise money to help in the fight against this disease.
May 2nd 2016: Cure SMA’s NYC chapter is holding an event called An Evening of Hope in the west village section of Manhattan. Wine and chocolate tastings are a part of the fun!
June 16th – 19th 2016: Cure SMA is holding its Annual Conference in Disneyland. Here, parents and SMA kids as well as researchers from all over the country can meet up and be a part of numerous sessions that focus on research progress and sharing of information.
September 14th – 18th 2016: The SMA Trust will take part in the London to Paris Bike Ride!
September 29th 2016: DAWS, alongside the gang of the WDW Today podcast, will hold it’s inaugural World SlowChase. The event will take place at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival, as we slowly chase each other through Epcot to taste and sip the offerings of the International Showcase Pavilions. As part of this adventure, you will receive a custom WDW Today Bottle Opener, a lanyard, a backpack and other goodies. (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wdw-todays-world-slowchase-a-do-away-with-sma-benefit-tickets-21967847423)
The SMA Angels Annual Charity Ball is scheduled to take place on November 21st 2016. Please feel free to check out their website for additional details.
If you know of any other SMA news that you’d like us to share, just let us know!
OK – thanks for taking a moment to check out our update on the fight against SMA. Since DAWS was founded by a bunch a fun-loving endurance athletes with a special fondness for running, we’re focusing the remainder of this weekly blog on a synopsis of some big races…and a preview of things to be on the lookout for this coming weekend.
Well there were a bunch of races of shapes and sizes going on last weekend, from the local 4 miler here in New York City’s Central Park to the headline event that I will focus some time on this week: The Marathon des Sables.
So I’ll start with my local race: Thew New York Road Runners Run for the Parks 4 miler. This race takes place annually in Central Park, and it counts as a marathon qualifier for anyone attempting to earn entry into the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon through the “9 + 1” program (where runners complete 9 NYRR races and then volunteer for another race in the same calendar year in order to gain automatic entry into the following year’s marathon). The race takes runners around the middle loop of the park, with several rolling hills along the way. The winning men’s time: 20:12. That’s a 5:03 pace on those rolling hills. Whoh. The winning women’s time: 23:31. Sub-6 for 4 miles on rolling hills – someone had a turbocharger rigged to her back!
OK – now’s let’s head south to St. Louis, for the St. Louis Marathon. I’ve never run this one, but I The winning men’s time was 2:23:19 and the winning women’s time was 2:49:25. I haven’t been lucky enough to run this race yet – but from the race reports I’ve read from prior years, miles 17-22 were simply referred to as “Holy Hills”. The 2016 version of this race appears to have a slightly altered course, which may have shown mercy to the competitors. The description of this race reminds me of the Philadelphia Marathon, where the race starts with half marathoners and full marathons running the same first 13 miles, then having the full marathoners peel off and run the second half of the race on a much quieter portion of the course. This could be the race for you if you enjoy starting a marathon with a ton of comrades, and then prefer a quiet second half to focus on the task at hand.
Now we’ll head to Texas – to the home of my football team’s arch rival: Dallas. The Big D Texas Marathon saw a winning men’s time of 2:49:43 an the wining women’s time was 3:18:43. Judging by the finishing times, I am going to assume that the course is a bit challenging. There are no marathon reviews up yet, and prior years’ reviews are extremely mixed. I wish I could provide additional color on this one – but I am not sure whether I can recommend this race to my readers based on other runners’ reports.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, the Rock n Roll Marathon came to town. The winning men’s time was 2:42:46 and the winning women’s time was 2:59:18. This race is well-rated on Marathonguide.com, and reports say that the course it fairly hilly – yet the pain of the inclines are worth the running tour of the colleges and the spirited fans that come with them. If you are looking for a race in April that provides some hill work – this may be the one for you. The Rock n Roll series does very well as far as on-curse entertainment – so that’s another plus to think about if you are considering it.
Now let’s supersize our races, shall we? First up: the North Face Endurance Challenge in Washington, DC. This is a fun weekend in our nation’s capital, with the Gore-Tex 50 Miler, 50k, Marathon and Marathon Relay races on Saturday and Half Marathon, 10k and 5k events on Sunday. Similar events take place throughout the year in New York and San Francisco, Utah, Wisconsin and Canada. These races are all on trails – which adds an additional challenge to the event.
OK – now let’s switch gear and talk triathlon. IRONMAN South Africa – the African Championships took place last weekend. as the saying goes: swim 2.4 miles….bike 112 miles…run 26.2 miles…and then brag for the rest of your life. IRONMAN holds over 30 full-length races throughout the year. Several of these races are considered championships on each continent. The North American Championship is held annually in The Woodlands, Texas (May 14th). The South American Championship is held in Brazil (May 29th), The Asia-Pacific Championship is held in Australia (June 12th), and the European Championship is held in Germany (July 3rd). Finally, the final championship of each year is the World Championship, held in Kona, Hawaii during the first full weekend of October.
The first continental championship of the year took place in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa on Saturday. This is a race that is famous for its on-course support…and think about it: if an athlete EVER needs some help from the crowd, it is during a 140.6 mile journey. The men’s winner – Ben Hoffman of the United States, finished in 8 hours and 12 minutes. This includes a marathon run in 2:45!!! Kaisa Lehtonen of Finland was the women’s winner, with a time of 9 hours and 6 minutes. She crushed the marathon in 3:02. All I can say is BEAST MODE: ON.
Last but not least, let’s talk about a multi-day endurance race that began on April 8th, called the Marathon des Sables (“MDS”). The MDS is a six-seven day race broken up into five stages. The total length of the race is 250km. So why is this race so tough? Good question. Well, for starters, it is self-supported. When you leave base camp for the day’s stage, you have whatever supplies you bring with you. Water. Fuel. Gear (which means gear to wear AND sleep in – so sleeping bags, etc). Everything is self-supported. There are no water stops every mile. No one passes out Clif shots 17 miles in. There are no fans to keep your legs going as your quads scream “Enough already!”. Sound tough? Well it defnitely is.
…oh: I left out one other key fact…..the entire race is across the Sahara Desert.
The idea for this came about in 1984, when Patrick Bauer traversed 350km of the uninhabited Sahara with a 35kg backpack, completely self-supported. In 1986, 23 athletes decided to follow in his footsteps. The race itself was officially created in 1987. Over the years, this race has grown dramatically, and it is yet another example of the strength of the human spirit and the solidarity forged between people of all backgrounds and races through pure competition and sport. If you look at the race recaps and you listen to the way participants speak of the race and their fellow athletes, the tone is one of universal respect. It serves as a reminder that their are very few limits to what a human being can accomplish, and we all are stronger than we give ourselves credit for.
There are some cool races going on this coming weekend…but I think next week’s schedule can be summed up with one word:
Are there any races coming up that you’d like us to blog about? Let us know! Until next week: may all your hills be downhills.
Check us out at http://www.doawaywithsma.org, or emai lus firstname.lastname@example.org