Cadet: Penny Dora
Age: 47 | City: Greenville, Mich.
Penny started running “casually” in 1999, at the age of 34. “I have always been active and enjoyed playing various sports,” she said. “But finding time in the schedule was becoming more and more difficult so I started looking for things that were more flexible. It didn’t take long for me to love running. It was something that I could do anywhere at any time. Running has opened up a whole new level of fitness for me.”
While she’s done five half marathons over the years, she’s never been able to make the leap to the full distance. This year she’s going for it, with an ambitious goal of 4:15 for her first race. “There are so many runners that inspire me to be stronger, not just physically but mentally and emotionally,” she says. “There is incredible power in seeing someone accomplish something they didn’t think they could do or being witness to the obstacles some runners face and yet they still achieve. If I draw my motivation from their stories, I know I can make it across the finish line. Without the leadership of my veteran mentor, Caroline Cook, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this goal and for that I want to truly thank her. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I ever would have tried to run a full.”
Vet: Caroline Cook
Age: 53 | City: Grand Rapids, Mich.
Caroline started running in 2002 because there was a race that went past her house every year. “I had cheered for my neighbors from the curb for years,” she says. “It was time to become a participant.” She was 42 at the time and determined to live a healthy lifestyle and be a positive role model for her two children.
“What I did not know at that time was how running would not only launch a new passion for me, but become a lifestyle,” she says. After three years of running 5Ks, 10Ks and even 25Ks, she was offered a free entry to the 2005 Chicago Marathon by a local running store. Caroline couldn’t pass it up. “I laugh now at my rather do-it-yourself training program for that first marathon,” she says. “But it was my fastest ever, and a ticket to the 2006 Boston Marathon.”
This year she’s running her tenth and eleventh marathons. In September she’s shooting to run 3:45 at the Berlin Marathon and she’ll follow that up in October by running Grand Rapids with Penny. “It will be a thrilling occasion to cheer her across the finish line,” she says.