Century Marathon A Runaway Success

Submitted by the Fulton Family YMCA

Writing the final chapter to Ruth Ripley’s 100th marathon journey has proven to be very hard and emotional.  So much has happened over the last 16 years to bring her to her 100th marathon.

The Century Marathon and Half Marathon was held on October 12, 2008 and started at 7am. It was a picture perfect fall day for the runners, walkers, volunteers and all the spectators who were present.

The Century Marathon was the dream of Sam Familo.  He wanted to have a marathon close to home so everyone in the Oswego County area could have the opportunity to come out and support Ruth, either by participating or by volunteering.  Not to mention that it would be the 1st ever marathon event held in the Oswego County area.

The Fulton Family YMCA and Kim McPherson, Race Director, agreed to take on this enormous project.  After months of weekly meetings with Kim, to discuss the perfect marathon, October 12th finally arrived.  The goal was to maybe have 100 runners for the whole and the half marathon events combined.  Race day came and we had, an overwhelming, 260 registered walkers and runners who signed up.  This far exceeded our wildest dreams and expectations.

Sam Familo designed the race course, he then had the course surveyed by Bob Burleigh and then he had it certified.  The course included many hills, but the hills were off set by the beautiful October foliage, fields of corn and of course the curious cows which the runners enjoyed seeing.  One participant stated the following,  “Very well marked course with mile markers very visible, great food and drink at the finish and friendly and supportive volunteers.”  “You guys did a great job with this.  One of the best races I’ve ever been in.  Even the cows in the country were mooing.  The walkers and runners, when passing by water stop number two, were woken, if they weren’t already, by the very loud cheering of social workers and friends of Ruth who volunteered.

Sam Familo, Beth Foederer and Karen Crisifulli scheduled training runs, which were held on Saturdays and ended up with a solid 15 consistent participants who were first time half and whole marathoners. They were present each week and all successfully completed their first half and whole marathon.  Ruth’s desire has always been to inspire new runners to share her love and dedication to running. One person she was most proud of was her daughter Amy for walking her first half marathon.  Ruth wished her son, Matt and his family could have been present, but the trip wasn’t possible for them during that time.

Friends of Ruth’s came in from all over, New York, Colorado, South Dakota, Maryland and Ohio to name a few states.  They were friends who she had made while running the 50 states, they were also people who she works with now and who she had worked with from years ago and some who she had become friends with as a child and kept in touch with to this day.

Ruth’s 88 year old mother wanted to come and see her start her final marathon.  Co-workers, friends and relatives volunteered at the water stops, worked the packet pick up and gave the runners their medals and awards at the end. Each one deserves a special thank you for their all of their hard work.

Ruth’s nursing supervisor, Julie Corsoniti designed T-shirts for the Crouse Hospital group, she had printed “Ruth Ripley’s 100th marathon” on them.  Every time Ruth saw someone wearing one it would give her the extra boost to finish.  So many co-workers from the Emergency Department were present; Ruth was left wondering who was actually left to work.

Ruth’s husband Larry made the huge breast cancer pink mile markers at her request, so the runners knew where each mile was.  Sam had painted the pink flowers and drew pink arrows on the road so the runners wouldn’t get lost.

October is and was Breast Cancer Awareness month and this is when Ruth wanted her final marathon to be.  It is a month that she celebrates life each year after her battle with breast cancer.  Ruth finished her 50 states marathon in October so she wanted to finish her 100 marathon in October.

The 100th marathon was such a special event for Ruth we had runners bring in one rose each, she did end up with a minimum of 100 long stem long pink roses which decorated Ruth and Larry’s home and also helped in the design of this year’s Christmas Card for them.  Ruth said she had never received so many flowers in her life.

To make the awards special Ruth suggested and used an idea taken from a previous marathon and asked to have framed pictures given out for awards.  We had an awesome picture of Bull Head point, taken by Richard Allen which we used. Abby Weaver and Beth Foederer worked very hard on this project by getting the pictures printed with the age group and the event put on them.  They were one of the best awards we have seen yet said race participants.

The delicious refreshments were the result of the hard work of Kathy Hatter.  To add to this, Ruth wanted a small home town touch so she called many runners and friends to have them bring in 2 dozen homemade cookies each.  What a great hit that was and all were gone by the end of the day.  We also had 2 massage therapists who graciously volunteered their time for the runners to enjoy.

Ruth finished the marathon in 4:41:18.  She was escorted to the finish line by Miles Ross, a friend, who had a draped American Flag over his bike.  Miles also had a huge part in naming the marathon and suggesting the logo to be “100 is enough”.

What a celebration of life for Ruth.  Ruth and the Fulton YMCA can’t thank enough, all the volunteers, sponsors, and spectators who helped make this marathon event perfect, along with making it a perfect ending to Ruth’s marathon dream. The encouragement and kind words over the years has meant so much to her.

100 is truly enough and she is planning on seeing all of the smaller race participants at all the local races now.  Thank you to everyone who helped, and participated.

The marathon is not over for the Fulton YMCA, with an overwhelming response to have it again for next year.  A comment made by another participant was “for a first time race, this was well organized and everything seemed to go off as planned.  This certainly has the potential to become a bigger event with a little advertising.  Well done by everyone involved” With that said the committee is now in the process of meeting and going over the plans for a 2009 Marathon event.

Happy Running,