About the Campaign
I was diagnosed with MS in 2005, at the age of 25, 1 year into graduate school. This is also the time I started taking exercise more seriously. I wanted to do everything I could to preserve the abilities I had, and I thought exercise was a good way to accomplish this. The major flare up I had in 2005 was enough to deter me from pursuing a career as a professional musician, since I am a pianist and the flare up had left me with limited feeling in my right hand.
I started swimming. I could barely make it across the pool once at the University of Oregon, but I persisted, swimming daily at 5:30 am when the pool was less crowded and turbulent. After several months, I was swimming up to 3 miles at a time. And it felt good. My body felt good, and my brain did, too. I was coming to terms with the fact that I have MS, and I was noticing and appreciating the amazing things my body is still capable of.
As I felt better from the acute pain of my MS flare up, I started running in earnest. I started with about a mile. Then, two miles, then more and more. At the time of getting accepted to do this ultra relay run, my longest run has been 13 miles, about 7 years ago. Currently, a long run for me is about 10 miles.
Between my 37th and 38th birthdays, I decided to run at least a mile every single day, most days 3 or more miles. I ran with spikes on my shoes in the Wisconsin snow on Christmas Day. I ran on vacation in the Bay Area. I ran before my friend’s wedding in Berkeley, at 4am before a ski trip. I ran in the rain in the streets of downtown Eugene from the train station after a 7 hour delay getting home. I ran on trails, beaches, streets, paths, tracks, parks, and playgrounds. And I did it. I ran every single day for over a year. I felt good; I felt empowered.
Still, in the back of my mind, I know that someday I might need to give up running. I might not be able to do it anymore. MS is an unpredictable disease. I could wake up any day with a flare up that ends life as I currently know it. I know this because it has already happened to me once.
But for now, I can run. I am lucky. I can enjoy the pavement pounding beneath my shoes, the hours and miles that pass, the sweat on my neck, the feeling that I am using my body, the same body that woke up one day, seemingly failing me.
I am running this relay for those who can’t, because I can.
The Ultra Relay
The MS Run the US – Relay is an annual 3,260-mile relay run across America for the multiple sclerosis (MS) cause.
The Relay begins each year mid-April in Santa Monica, CA and finishes mid-August in New York, NY. Our Relay runners are selected via our online application process to participate as an individual segment runner as a part of the Ultra Relay team.
To participate each runner commits to fundraising $10,000 over ten months and to running approximately 160-miles over 6 consecutive days during his or her assigned Relay segment. There are 19 segments total in the relay spanning from California to New York. Once selected each runner spends months training and fundraising prior to the event as they prepare to devote one week on the road with the nonprofit while completing their segment’s miles. Each runner’s segment is logistically coordinated back-to-back as a part of the collective team effort to run 3,260-miles over the duration of 4.5 months.