No small feat – what it’s like to be a pair of DFMC running shoes Part I

Dana_Farber_Marathon_Challenge_DFMCDana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) team members take on the ambitious responsibility of training to run 26.2 miles in the prestigious Boston Marathon® while also raising funds to support innovative basic cancer research. The runners take it on, but how do their running shoes feel about this exciting challenge? We’re switching things up, and looking at some of the best aspects of the DFMC experience – through the eyes of a pair of running shoes.

Steps in the right/left direction – our homecoming

We land with a thud. We hear wind whipping around us, but can’t see anything. We know we’re in the correct place, but hours pass without any movement. Suddenly, we’re lifted with shrieks of excitement. A voice says “I’m so happy these are finally here – my shoes for the Boston Marathon! Oh my goodness, I’m running the marathon. This is really happening.” The layers of packaging are carefully shed, and we’re hit with bright lights and a big smile. We slide on, and it’s a perfect fit. We know she’s the one running, but our DFMC experience has officially begun.

We’re Elle and Wright, and we’re her running shoes.

The overarching mission to conquer cancercharity running program

Our shoelaces keep us pulled together (physically and emotionally), and when they’re tightened and tied, we know to take action. We’ve glanced at the training calendar from DFMC training advisor Jack Fultz – we know we have a hard road and hundreds of training miles ahead of us. When we start to get overwhelmed with those miles, we glance at our DFMC shoelaces, and remember why we’re running: to raise critical funds to support cancer research, and ultimately change the lives of patients and their families affected by this terrible disease.

All funds raised through DFMC support the Barr Program, a program created to fund the brightest and most creative scientists making basic research discoveries, and ultimately transforming cancer treatment. Barr Investigators have made numerous major breakthroughs resulting in improved survival rates and better quality of life for thousands of patients everywhere. 

The Dana-Farber mission to conquer cancer runs over, under and through our sole, and inspires us to pull ourselves together, channel the strength and determination of cancer patients and their families, and take action.

Meeting our sole mates – the first group training run  charity running program

It’s a Saturday morning in December. The sun hasn’t come up yet, but with our shoelaces double knotted, we’re en route to the first DFMC group training run. We’re eager to meet our sole mates, and hit the pavement.

We arrive at the meeting spot. There are tons of people, and twice as many running shoes. In a sea of black running pants, our running shoes steal the show with glowing neon, bright colors, graphic designs, and reflective strips. Before heading out to run, we discuss some great fundraising ideas, and a teammate shares a very touching story about her sister’s great care at Dana-Farber. There is a mix of first-time DFMC runners and veteran teammates. You can feel the anticipation and emotion as we’re about to begin.

We leave the meeting spot and head out for our run. We hang in the middle of the pack since we’re fairly new to marathon training. There’s a lot of talking at first, but as we settle into mile three and the sun begins to rise, the cool air is filled with the shuffles of fellow shoes. Along the way, we cross paths with some very energetic volunteers who are just as passionate about Dana-Farber as we are. Seeing them along the course helps keep up the momentum, and before we know it, we’re back at the meeting spot and we feel fantastic!

There’s comfort in training as a group. We know we’ll run on plenty of miles our own too, but support in numbers makes each mile a little easier. We can’t wait for the next group training run.

There are so many great aspects of being a part of the DFMC team, and if you or your running shoes have ever had an inkling to run The Boston Marathon, or pay homage to a loved one affected by cancer, joining the DFMC team is a “shoe-in” to achieve both. If you and your running shoes are interested in joining the 2016 DFMC team, please apply.

Katherine McIsaac
Assistant Director, Development Communications