By Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY June 29, 2001 Local residents Lisa Botsford and Luanne Ritz rocked in San Diego earlier this month.
But Botsford, of Neversink, and Ritz, a Jeffersonville resident, were not rocking with guitars and a drum set. Instead, the two women participated in The Rock-n-Roll Marathon, the proceeds of which benefit the Leukemia Society of America.
While leukemia is the leading disease killer of children in the U.S., thousands of adults are diagnosed with leukemia as well. Statistics show that four of every 100,000 children between the ages of two and 10 will be diagnosed this year but leukemia strikes 10 times as many adults as children.
Botsford and Ritz, two of the 30 members of the Upstate New York/Vermont Team In Training chapter competing in the marathon, helped that group raise a total of $183,955. (They noted that, nationwide, the 3,700 members of Team In Training raised over $14 million for the Leukemia Society.)
Like all of the 16,000 participants in The Rock-n-Roll Marathon, the two local ladies competed in honor of a donor patient. Botsford, who personally raised over $6,400 for the marathon, ran for Wendy, a friend of a friend who was diagnosed with leukemia last July. Ritz, who personally raised over $4,400, ran for a four-year-old Saugerties girl. She also ran in memory of Irene Simonovich, who passed away from leukemia. Simonovichs daughters, Denise Conklin and Erika Gwiozdowski, are co-workers of Ritz.
And even though Botsford and Ritz had not formally trained as runners until a few months ago, both finished the race. Botsford, who is the Director of Sales and Marketing at The Lodge at Rock Hill, ran the 26.2-mile course in 4:39.39. Ritz, an underwriter at the Irwin Siegel Agency, Inc. in Rock Hill, finished in 5:42.01.
You have [up to] eight hours to finish, because there are walkers in it too, Botsford said.
Both ladies were satisfied with their times. Ritz, however, would have had a better time if she hadnt hurt her knee.
She said that she injured the knee while training, and it began acting up on her during the marathon. But after stopping for a few minutes at an aid station so a trainer could treat her knee, Ritz was back on the course and finished the race.
While Botsford and Ritz clearly used their own determination to cross the finish line, they noted that there was plenty of other support as well. They said that 40 high school cheerleading squads and a large crowd of spectators were on hand to cheer the efforts of all the participants.
And, of course, Team In Training had its own group of supporters in San Diego.
Every couple of miles they were holding up signs and cheering, Ritz said. You knew there were a lot of people supporting you. And thats nice.
And with that encouragement, they noted that the run seemed a bit easier than they thought it would be.
Its just such a high, Botsford said. And there are 16,000 people doing it, so you dont feel alone.
It did not feel like 26 miles, Ritz added.
While Botsford said she will probably run another marathon at some point in the future, Ritz is not sure if she will because of her knee.
But they will always have their 2001 Rock-n-Roll Marathon experience.
We made some friends and had a great time, Ritz said.
We want to say thank you to everyone for their donations, support and encouragement, Botsford said.
The pair also received medals for finishing the race. On the back of the medal, it says simply, I rocked!