Two are battling painful injuries. One is grieving the death of a family member and the loss of a job. Another can't seem to cut back on his work hours to fit in more training.
Despite the turmoil, all four Free Press marathoners are still determined to complete their goals of running the Manitoba Marathon next month.
In February, we introduced you to Kris Wood, Ramona Turner, Corey Gallagher and Mike Booth.
Here's an update on our runners and how each of them plans to make it across the finish line on race day:
MIKE BOOTH, an elite runner and owner of Massage Athletica.
Background: A familiar face in Winnipeg's running community, Booth, 31, has won the full Manitoba Marathon four times. The St. James resident also coaches running clinics and is mentor to many novice and elite marathoners. You might recognize Booth from his five-year stint working at Stride Ahead, a specialty running store in Grant Park Shopping Centre. Now he's a certified massage therapist who recently opened his own business, Massage Athletica.
Have his marathon goals changed? No. He wanted to go into the run feeling healthy and to "get back and win it this year." (Last year, he placed fourth overall).
Obstacles: His new business is keeping him too busy to run as much as he'd like. He took nine days off from training to travel to the United States and lecture about running. Now he's feeling the need to catch up, although he says the bright side to "forced recovery" is no injuries.
Training highlights: "I kind of kicked it into high gear," says Booth, who five weeks ago averaged 45 minutes of training. Now he's averaging 60 to 70 minutes. His hardest training happens on Garbage Hill where he runs intervals on all of the hill's paths, trails and roads.
A race quirk: Booth rarely keeps his race day medals or photos -- opting instead to "chuck them" unless his parents "get their hands on them." "You want to always be moving forward," he says.
How he thinks he'll fare on race day: "The marathon, it's sounds funny, is such a slow pace. Because I come from a track background. I'm not going to have any problems going out trying to hit the pace," says Booth, who anticipates achieving a time of around two hours, 35 minutes. "It's just those last miles, if I'm going to be able to survive or not. If I end up falling apart, I know I gave it my best effort."
COREY GALLAGHER, an elite runner who works as a Canada Post letter carrier.
Background: Second to cross the finish line in last year's Manitoba half marathon. He also placed second in the 2005 half. The 24-year-old has run every annual half-marathon but one since age 12. Gallagher juggles his full-time postal job with a part-time gig at Stride Ahead. Took two years off running after an IT band injury.
Have his (half) marathon goals changed? Has always wanted to "run fast" and hopefully win. He still has the same goals but will probably change his method of getting there come race day. "This year, I might be a little bit more cat and mouse, kind of feel everybody out, wait a little bit more because I'm not that fit or confident where I can just take off."
Obstacles: Was battling the physical effects of his letter carrier job (he walks six to 10 miles every day) with the grind of training daily. It finally caught up with him. Three-and-a-half weeks ago, Gallagher had to stop running after an injury to his hip and groin. At press time, he was also off work so he could recover.
Surprising twist: After losing weight to ensure he was thin and fast on race day, he's packed on 18 pounds in the short time he's been off work. "I'm eating less, but at the same time ... I'm not burning off those calories at work."
Training highlights: Used to run daily. Since his injury, he's working out at his condominium gym. He's ventured out for some gentle runs. He soothes his muscles with two ice baths a day.
On why he takes running so seriously: "I never used to be like this. But basically after taking two years off, the girlfriend being big into running, I started to appreciate it more and take it a lot more serious and realized you can't just show up for races," says Gallagher. "You can't just kind of wing everything. You got to train and put in the time if you want to be good."
RAMONA TURNER, a hobby runner who works as an administrative assistant.
Background: Turner, 44, first hit the pavement in 1997 and hasn't looked back. Two years ago, the Headingley resident decided to take running a bit more seriously. To prove it, she has completed two half-marathons, including last May's Winnipeg Police Services half, which took place during a blizzard. Attending several destination races to watch her husband run inspired her to cross the finish line.
Have her marathon goals changed? No. She still wants to finish her first full marathon in a time around 4:30.
Obstacles: Is battling an ankle injury that crept up on her after a recent 23-mile run. After seeing the chiropractor, "the sharp pain is gone and it's just like a dull ache. Turner hoped after icing and resting she could attempt the Winnipeg Police Service Half Marathon (scheduled for yesterday).
Training highlights: Trains three days a week with Park City Runners. Has progressed to gruelling 23-mile runs, which she says gives her the infamous runner's high. "You finish what you set out to do. It's such a great feeling. I just get all jazzed just thinking about it."
The hardest part of her long runs: The "little rolling hills" on the Moray Bridge walking path. "When you come around to do that backwards. Those little hills feel like mountains. That's at about mile 17. The first time we did it I had to walk that little hill," says Turner, who thinks the hills are preparing her for what the last few miles of the Manitoba Marathon will feel like.
Race day strategy: Wants to keep bathroom breaks to a minimum. "The less time you spend stopped, the sooner you're going to get back."
On being in "denial" after an injury: "It's really hard for the brain to say, 'No. Sorry. Now you can't.' The idea of running is not acceptable," says Turner, who takes a deep breath and sighs. "But your brain tells you, 'What are you going to do? Risk permanent injury? Or risk a stress fracture?'"
Background: Took up running three years ago and has run seven half-marathons since. This Charleswood mother and wife has played ringette for most of her life, so knows the value of sportsmanship and hard work. She lost 30 pounds in her first few months of running and has kept it off since. She admits she used running as a way to cope when her late mother was gravely ill.
Have her marathon goals changed? Still plans to run her first full marathon between four hours and 4:20.
Obstacles: Visiting her ill stepfather in an out-of-town hospital didn't leave Wood much time to train. He has since passed away. In the midst of her family crisis, she lost her job.
Training highlights: Wood intended to take a Running Room training clinic. She's only attended a couple of sessions and instead runs on her own or with friends. She also swims and bikes. She hoped that she could run yesterday's WPS half marathon as part her prep for race day.
Proudest training moment: Recently completed her first 18-mile training run.
"I was high for two days. Let me tell you that. But of course I couldn't move for a day and a half," says Wood, who was surprised that her arms rather than her legs were especially sore.
Why she deserves to run: "I've done my time. Now it's time for me to get a reward. I look at this marathon training as a reward. I'm giving myself something so great."
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