By John Ebel
I’ve been a runner since around age 30. My first marathon was in Milwaukee three years before the Community First Fox Cities Marathon Presented by Miron Construction began. During those first years I was running to stay healthy due to my family’s heart history, but over time it became a way of life. I was diagnosed with MS in 1998 at age 46.
2011 was a difficult year for me. That’s when a multiple sclerosis (MS) exacerbation in July sidelined me – I couldn’t keep up running with the pain, fatigue and lack of coordination. I had been involved in the Fox Cities Marathon every year since its start – and I had to find a way to get back out on the course that year too. Fleet Feet Fox Valley connected me with MyTEAMTriumph, and together we ran the race that year.
I was determined though to get out there and do it on my own again. My MS went into remission and I was able train once again and able to run the marathon in 2012 with the My Team Triumph Angels from the previous year and some running friends who ran alongside me with a chair just in case, but I didn’t need it – I didn’t sit once that whole race!
Around 2015 I developed Parkinson’s disease in addition to my MS. It became increasingly more difficult to run and by 2018 I couldn’t run a long distance on my own again. So, I enlisted the help, once again, of the MyTEAM Triumph Angels. Then in 2019 the Angels were by my side on race day, but bad storms and lightning moved in right as the race was about to start, so the event was cancelled. However, I did complete the race virtually with the Pacesetters group. I ran half on my own and half with the assistance of My Team Triumph.
Then, in 2020 there was no race due to the pandemic.
I needed one last race. So, in 2021, MyTEAM Triumph was called in again and they were there every step of the way with me as I completed the Fox Cities Marathon, my final race and my final marathon. I was able to run the last 1.2 miles with them and my son and daughter’s-in-law and a running friend by my side. My daughter and son’s in-law along with my wife were cheering me on at the finish line. I was able to finish my 30th Fox Cities Marathon and my 48th marathon overall.
Now 2022, I found myself still wanting to support this great event. I’ve signed up as a volunteer and will be helping get bibs ready for racers as I have done for many years prior to this.
I share my story because I hope others can feel the importance of perseverance in their journey. You’re going to need it out on the course, but I promise you, if you just keep going, you will reach that finish line.
Take it from a veteran runner who’s been where you are many times before.