This Sunday marks the 12th annual MORE/Fitness/Shape Women's Half-Marathon in Central Park. The event will be hosted by TODAY News anchor Natalie Morales and Weekend TODAY Co-host Erica Hill. The 13.1 miles are all about proving, once again, that #WomenRunTheWorld.
We're impressed with every woman who sweats out those miles, but we're especially inspired by the stories of the following four moms (and one mom-to-be!), who will be participating in the race this weekend:
Elise, 33, suffered a serious pelvic/hip fracture in 2007, which is when her doctor told that her body was not made for running, but would be great for carrying babies. Since then, she has switched doctors and completed her first triathlon last year. Elisa has been competing in the MORE/Fitness/Shape Half-Marathon every year since it first started in 2006. "Running [this] Half-Marathon this year as both a runner and being pregnant is a personal victory for me, to show those who doubt what women are capable of accomplishing," she said.
This will be Sofia's, 28, first official half-marathon. Two years ago, Sofia tragically lost her 4-year-old daughter, Ariel, when she and her grandmother were struck by an unlicensed driver who lost control and jumped the curb onto the sideway. Ariel was athletic and loved playing in Central Park, so when Sofia began running there as a way to deal with her loss, she felt she was making her daughter proud and honoring her. "Running has shown me that my heart is stronger than I ever imagined it could be," she said. Sofia is also the mother of two sons—4 year old Jacob and 9 month old James.
Anjie, 44, will be running in honor of all the women who have made a difference in her life, especially in the past four years since her divorce. In order to thank each of these women, she will be sending them a personalized email before the race to express how they have shaped the woman she is today. Anji is a single mother to two sets of (natural!) twins—who have participated in races with her as well. "For me, running is a way to clear my head. Running gives me an opportunity to think about life and put challenges into perspective," she said. "Running allows me to think, dream and be healthy."
Debra, 36, runs marathons all year long, and this will be her second time participating in the MORE/FITNESS/SHAPE half. When Debra's husband suddenly died in an accident, she was left with three children (between the ages of 2 months and 4 years old) and completely overwhelmed with grief. She begun to slip into a state of depression, and couldn't bring herself to eat, sleep or exercise. Finally, with encouragement from her three brothers, Debra began to run again. "The feeling of peace and confidence lasted longer and longer," she said. Her favorite part about this particular half-marathon is that it's all about women empowering each other to set goals and then follow through with them. Debra has since remarried and given birth to another child.
Kimberly, 31, has participated in numerous running events, but this will be her first-ever women's only event. In 2013, Kimberly gave birth to her daughter, Amelia, and shortly after she noticed something was not quite right. She was soon diagnosed with postpartum depression, which marked the beginning of a yearlong battle. Eventually, she made her way back to running and this often became her only "me" time. "When I heard about this race I knew I had to do it, for me. Most minutes of most days I do for others," she said. "While running cannot cure my illness it can bring me comfort." Kimberly also blogs about her experiences here.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She's a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
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Images courtesy of each participant