This past weekend was much more than a race.
It was much more than a fun expo, where Justin actually let me take a lap around and buy my usual sparkly headband.
It was, as Cameron’s dad so eloquently put it, all about “the birthplace of where Cameron made her legacy.”
Our local newspaper captures the emotion of that day very well:
About 250 runners joined the family of Cameron Gallagher — a Henrico County teenager who died soon after crossing the finish line of last year’s Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach — in returning to the event this year to run in her honor.
The group raised about $35,000 at Sunday’s race. (This will go toward the Cameron Gallagher Memorial Foundation, which began after the family found notes about a 5K race Cameron had been planning in order to raise awareness about depression, a mental illness she struggled with herself.) Cameron’s father, David Gallagher, who with his wife Grace, ran the same course his daughter did the day she died.
He said there were several points along the course where it felt like they were reliving the tragedy.
“We knew it would be a hard race. We knew it would be emotional and impactful,” he said.
Cameron ran the half marathon March 16, 2014, with her friend Abby Donelson. She collapsed at the finish line and died that evening of what the medical examiner later deemed cardiac arrhythmia linked to exhaustion and dehydration.
Donelson returned to the race this year with her stepfather to run the full marathon.
She passed key points on the course that triggered memories of Cameron. The spot where Cameron stopped to take off her sweater. The stretch where Donelson sang the One Direction song “What Makes You Beautiful” in Cameron’s ear before she teasingly told her to stop. Then came the point on the path that inspired the foundation’s mantra. The pair had stopped to stretch because Cameron’s legs were tightening up near the 12-mile mark. Soon after, Cameron told her running buddy, “Let’s finish this.”
“Throughout the entire run I told myself I had Cameron on one shoulder and my Dad on the other cheering me on,” Donelson said.
Justin and I decided, we do not have the strength that the Gallagher’s do to go back and revisit the site. This is just a small testament of how amazing this family is and how they are using such tragedy to better the world.
No one that day ran stronger than Grace, David and Abby.
Stay tuned for more upcoming local events with Cameron’s foundation
And on a lighter note… I wore my number backwards and have 0 pictures from the race, so here’s one at the finish.
Justin and I picked the best spot for this PROOF huh?!
Would highly recommend this race if you are going for a PR- Flat course. But, would not expect much beautiful scenery. Although that depends on your definition of “beautiful.” To me, flat roads for miles is the picture of beauty!
The Monument 10K is this Saturday. My recovery plan…
No running, just fueling and teaching! I could get used to this…
When’s your next race?