Weekend starts Colorado runner’s marathon against Alzheimer’s disease



14065507-mmmainAccording to the old saying, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” For David Knapp, a journey of 1,310 miles begins with his first step off the starting line of the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, Miss., on Saturday, and continues in theServisFirst Bank First Light Marathon presented by the Mobile Sports Authority in Mobile on Sunday

The 50-year-old Colorado resident has set a goal of running 50 marathons during 2014, starting with the “Back2Back” in Jackson and Mobile. About 400 runners are attempting the Back2Back this weekend.

Knapp ran 40 marathons in 2004 to mark turning 40 years old. That was a birthday celebration. This time, he has a higher purpose in mind.

“This year, I decided to do it as fundraiser so it wasn’t just about me running the races,” Knapp said. “I wanted to try to contribute something.”

Knapp is running to raise funds for the Colorado chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of his mother, Audrey Jean Knapp.

“She passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s,” Knapp said, “and she was one of only 4 percent of Alzheimer’s victims who have the early onset version, so she actually started showing symptoms in her 50s — her early 50s, in fact. So it’s very rare, but even more devastating because they’re so young.”

Through the Alzheimer’s Association, Knapp has a website for donations. He hopes to raise $50,000.

“The goal is to get the word out, to let people know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it – because of my mother passing away from Alzheimer’s,” Knapp said. “They could go to the page and either donate a certain amount for each marathon that I’m doing or just a lump sum that they feel they can donate. Setting up the goal for $50,000 was if I could raise $1,000 total per marathon that would be great.”

Knapp said he’d been running about 60 miles a week to get ready for his marathon of marathons – 10 more in a year than he did 10 years ago.

“It is a little bit more challenging just because of those 10 years,” Knapp said. “In the interim, I’ve also added a lot more mileage to my body in a positive way, meaning that the body is used to running that type of mileage. The biggest thing is I just have to treat them as long runs, not try to race all 50 marathons, but just complete all 50 marathons. That will be the biggest challenge. Like a horse when it gets to the starting gate, you just want to take off. You just have to force yourself.

“It’s all about the pacing. As with any marathon — and I know this sounds funny — the first 20 miles are pretty easy. It’s the last 6 that are difficult. In the running community, people say at Mile 20 the race is half over.”

Knapp said the Mississippi Blues/First Light weekend will get him off to a fast start toward his 50-marathon goal in 2014.

“I’m trying to avoid having to run one every weekend,” Knapp said. “Having to get 50 in during the year, there’s going to be some times where it just made a lot more sense to me to be able to run two or, in some cases later on the year, three or four in a row so I don’t have to travel every weekend.”

But Knapp’s picks for weekend go beyond the proximity in distance and date for the two marathons.

“I chose those two not just because of the convenience of them being so close,” he said, “but they both have a reputation for being a good one to run a double, and the race directors in both locations have just been wonderful to work with. Of course, First Light, because they’re set up to fund a charity, they really kind of understand the importance of raising money for charities.

“So it’s been a good experience with both of them. Hopefully, the races will be as wonderful as dealing with that has been.”

The First Light Marathon benefits L’Arche Mobile, a Christian community that shares life with people with intellectual disabilities.

Knapp owns a business that specializes in leadership and management consulting, “so fortunately, I have an understanding boss – myself” who will give him time off for his running.

Knapp said he’d never visited Mobile.

“I’m trying to run both full marathons and half-marathons in each of the 50 states,” he said. “I haven’t done Alabama yet at either distance, so I’m looking forward to it.”

After the First Light, Knapp is headed for another marathon on Jan. 19 in Clearwater, Fla., where his father lives.

“That’ll be an emotional race because I’ll get a chance to cross the finish line with dad there, which will be nice,” he said.

This year’s First Light Marathon and Half Marathon start at 7:30 a.m. Sunday on Government Street near the intersection with Claiborne in downtown Mobile.

Runners can register online until midnight Friday. Registration also will be held from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday in the atrium at Mobile Government Plaza.

From 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, marathoners, half marathoners and relay runners will enjoy a pasta meal at the atrium at Mobile Government Plaza. The marathon party will be held at Bienville Square with a postrace meal and entertainment on Sunday.

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source: AL by Mark Inabinett


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