A Message From Owner, Kevin Staples
I never considered myself a “Real Runner”, although as a diver in the US Navy we ran many times a week as part of our physical fitness program. Once out of the Navy, running was merely a way to punish myself for gaining weight and used as an attempt to get my old body back by putting in hours at the gym a few times a week.
Then, three years ago while in the process of separating from my wife, I traveled to Hawaii with my daughter & dad when he tragically passed away. My mom declined to join on this trip as COVID was on the rise and her ovarian cancer had recently returned for the third time. She had numerous complications with chemotherapy treatments and made the decision to stay home in Florida instead of risk traveling.
My dad’s death hit me especially hard, and was compounded with the sudden end of my marriage. I was 240 pounds, a heavy drinker, and a ‘closet smoker’. After returning my dad’s ashes to my mom, my daughter and I returned home to Alaska and a very quiet house.
One day I realized that if I didn’t leave my house immediately, I wasn’t going to survive the night. I started running, and I kept going. I ran in rain, ice, and snow and I believed that no one would see me crying if I was soaked from rain and sweat. Quickly I went from 240 pounds to 163 pounds, mostly because food had no flavor and I was often too deep in my own depression to realize when I’d last had a meal.
In December, my mom entered hospice while my daughter and I were visiting for Christmas. My daughter returned home to Alaska and I stayed behind to care for my mom alone. In the afternoons while she’d nap, I would go for a short run to clear my head. At this point I realized maybe I could use this time to train for my first marathon. I’d run 3 half marathons at this point, but I still didn’t consider myself a “Real Runner”, because I hadn’t even broken two hours on a half marathon.
The Florida winter proved perfect for long runs, and I started researching my first marathon opportunity. I didn’t know a thing about running a marathon nor how they worked. I believed there was a Breast Cancer Marathon, or an Ovarian Cancer Marathon, and that’s when I learned about the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and the Miles Your Way program. I reached out to the NOCC and asked to run the Eugene Marathon for my mom. This was when I first began to raise money for the NOCC.
As my mom’s cancer worsened, I stopped running. On April 24, 2021 Sharon L. Drucker, my mom and one of my best friends passed away. The following day, April 25, was the Eugene Marathon. A friend agreed to follow me on a bike handing me water and Snickers bars to help me run my first ever marathon. Still, I didn’t consider myself a runner, but the wonderful people at the NOCC asked me to run the TCS New York Marathon in honor of my mom. It was there that I learned about the Abbott World Majors as well as the 7 Continents Club. The energy of that first in-person marathon was electric and contagious! I was in love with everything about the marathon experience and knew I needed to keep this wave of positive emotions going.
I immediately planned on my next race and while training, the NOCC informed me that they had just received entries into the Berlin Marathon, and asked me to join them.
I’d recently started a new position teaching at a local community college and the date of the race conflicted with the class schedule; I was denied my request to once again raise money for the NOCC.
That September I watched the NOCC TEAM TEAL run the Berlin Marathon without me and when I returned to class the next day I informed the Dean that I would not be returning to teach after the new year. In January North Coast Runners Supply opened and I was able to run the Berlin Marathon last September!
I now realize that I was a Real Runner the moment I put on shoes and showed up to morning PT every morning as a young Ensign. I never stopped being a Runner. When I was at the lowest point in my life and wanted to give up, I was a runner. It was running that saved my life. I was able to realize that I wasn’t strong enough to handle the level of pain I was in without professional help, but it was running that allowed me to eventually see it.