Marathon Man, Meet Marathon Goddess

Apr 6, 2016 | Stacy Matson | Celebrity Health

With passion, purpose and your incredible will, you too can achieve the impossible. That includes finding a cure for pancreatic cancer - Julie Weiss

Have you ever heard of Matthew Loddy, aka Marathon Man? Loddy is the British man who promised his dying friend that he would do whatever he could to raise money for cancer research and end-of-life care.  Sadly, a few months after the promise was made his friend died.  Loddy, finding himself full of grief, but wanting to do something came up with a plan that was crazy, unheard of, and awesome.  He decided to run 100 marathons in 100 days to raise money for cancer research.  And he did it, Loddy completed all 100 marathons in 100 days and raised $300,000.  Hence the nickname Marathon Man.

However, what Loddy initially set out to do, and what he actually did, was much more than just raising money for cancer.  Loddy inspired others all over the world to follow in his fast (and blistered) footsteps.  There’s Daren Wendell an Ultra Marathoner who also ran 100 marathons in 100 days to provide clean drinking water in Ethiopia. There’s the Irish duo Larry Maguire and Stevie McGeown who are running 100 marathons in 100 days to raise money for children’s charities.  There’s British comedian Eddie Izzard, who just completed 27 marathons in 27 days to raise money for Sports Relief.  Last but not least, there’s American Julie Weiss, aka the “Marathon Goddess.” Weiss, the only woman in the game, is raising money for pancreatic cancer research.

Weiss wasn’t always a physically active person, in fact, she only started running about ten years ago, after a friend suggested she go for a run to boost her spirits.  And before long, the overweight single mom who had been struggling with depression was hooked.  Even better,  Weiss lost 35 pounds and no longer relied on antidepressants; running was now her therapy and her motivation.  

A few years, and a couple of marathons, later Weiss’ mother called to tell her that her father had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. 35 days after his diagnosis her father died.  10 days after his death Weiss ran the Boston Marathon.  While running the marathon, Weiss said she felt her father’s spirit, encouraging her, pushing her.  That’s when she knew she had to do something to honor the man she said, “lived life to the fullest, with no regrets.”  

Weiss decided to use her passion for running to help others. She said she stumbled on the idea to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks while on social media. She said, “I knew that because I had run 12 marathons in 12 months, my body could recover pretty quickly and that I could probably do it.” And once she started dedicating her races to people fighting cancer, her efforts went viral. She said she’d get hundreds of emails every day from people telling her about a cancer diagnosis, either a loved one’s or their own.

These heartbreaking emails made her even more determined to do something to help those fighting cancer. She said, “for me, running marathons like this is nothing compared to what people with pancreatic cancer go through.  It’s the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States.  It has a 6% survival rate after five years, and it receives the lowest funding. I thought it was ridiculous and unacceptable, and I knew had to do something crazy for people to take notice of it.” She did, and they noticed. To date, Weiss has raised more than $400,000 all of which has been donated to either the Lazarex Cancer Foundation or the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.  

So what’s next for Weiss?  Well, she just became a grandmother.  So she plans on spoiling her granddaughter and "taking it easy" for a while.  However, her definition of “taking it easy” is not the same as mine, because for Weiss it means writing a book.  And running the Boston marathon again.  And training for an Ironman competition…   

Perhaps we’ll see 52 Ironmans in 52 weeks?

Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of Best.

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