A health teacher in high school once told Erika Stuart (46) that while organized sports were enjoyable, the schedule coordination required for team sports could be difficult to manage as an adult, and encouraged her to get involved in an athletic endeavor that she could enjoy throughout her life. Erika started running, something she has continued to do - even while balancing the challenges of birthing four children in less than six years. Erika will be running the Madison Half Marathon on May 25 and, in hindsight, wonders why she neglected to sign up for the Twilight 10K run on May 24. "Next year," she says.
Focal Flame Photography, the official event photography service provider for the 2014 Madison Marathon events, asked her about why she runs.
Focal Flame Photography: How many Madison Marathons or Half Marathons have you run?
Erika: I have run two Madison Half Marathons.
FFP: Do you participate in other similar events?
Erika: I have been running races and participating in running athletic events in several states for many years. I have competed in a Tin Man, triathlons, biathlons, 5K, 10K, 2-mile, and 5-mile events.
Some of my favorites include the Friehoffer's Championship 5K, Albany, New York; Vermont Marathon, Burlington, Vermont; Wellfleet 5-miler Road Race, Wellfleet, MA; and the Shamrock Shuffle and Madison Half Marathon in Madison, Wisconsin.
FFP: Are there any personal accomplishments you would like to mention?
Erika: I took time off from running races during the years I had four children, now ages 10, 9, 7, and 4. As with most moms, the children took over as the top priority in my life.
My youngest was born in December 2009; as the baby got older, I felt it was time to get back to what I love doing. I set my sights on the Madison Half Marathon and felt great standing at that starting line again!!!
Erika's Personal Story
FFP: What does running and participating in events such as the Madison Marathon mean to you?
Erika: Participating in an event like the Madison Half Marathon reminds me of my own ability to stay active and healthy. It also sets a good example for my children, two of whom have run several races with me.
FFP: With so many races to choose from, why do you participate in the Madison Marathon? What makes it special?
Erika: The Madison Marathon/Half Marathon is a top notch event. It is well run, a great course, well supported, and a fun and festive atmosphere. I see it as the gateway to a great summer!! Plus, my kids love to be on the square in Madison, watching me and the other runners cross the finish line.
FFP: Do you do anything special to make the race more meaningful or fun?
Erika: I have run for leukemia and other health-related issues; maybe this year, I will step it up and have a theme. I have also encouraged others to run, walking beside first timers as they jog. This year I have a friend running the Madison Half Marathon with me who has not run a race of that distance before.
FFP: What would you tell other racers about participating in the Madison Marathon?
Erika: It is a fun, somewhat challenging event. Having run many races in several states, in my opinion, the Madison Half Marathon is one of the best I have participated in.
This article is part of a series featuring athletes who are participating in a Madison Marathon Event May 24-25 and/or November 9, 2014. For more information or to register, visit Madison Marathon.