It’s hard to believe this is my 5th year as race director for the Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run, the primary fundraiser for the Marianne Talley Foundation! I’m happy to say that in that time I’ve almost doubled our overall participation. When Brian Talley first approached me to take over the organizational efforts, I just couldn’t say no and here’s why.
My husband Chuck and I became fast friends with Marianne Talley during the years she attended USC. When Marianne returned home on breaks she wanted to use the pool at Arroyo Grande High School to stay in shape; Chuck was the girls’ swim coach and we were both using the pool training for triathlons. After Marianne graduated and returned to the area, Chuck strongly suggested she get into triathlons as she would clearly be a natural at it! However, she had never done any open water swimming, so Chuck introduced her to swimming in the ocean in Avila Bay. The next thing we knew, she had signed up for and completed the Hawaii Triathlon. Little did we know, a few months later this friendship would end when Marianne suddenly passed away at the very young age of 25.
So now, instead of participating in the Annual Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run as a runner, I have the pleasure of “running” the show to raise money for the Marianne Talley Foundation. The Foundation funds annual scholarships for three students at Arroyo Grande High School. When I asked a long time Fun Run participant what she liked most about the event, she said, “I love that it continues to bring our entire community together and I love meeting back up with people I sometimes see only once a year.”
I hope you will join us on Sunday, June 5th for the 23rd Annual Fun Run as a runner, walker or volunteer. If you can’t join us on Sunday, you can still help the Marianne Talley Foundation by making a donation. Just go to raceroster.com to sign up to participate, volunteer or donate – there really is something for everyone!
Putting on an event with over 600 people attending takes a bit of work all through the year and wouldn’t be possible without the support of our sponsors and volunteers. It would be a lie to say I’m not a little stressed out and questioning why I’m doing this in the weeks leading up to race day. But when the final award is handed out, the race course is all cleaned up and the results are posted online, I know it’s all been worth it. I am truly grateful to honor Marianne’s memory and her love of health, fitness and a sport I’m so passionate about myself.
Sunday, June 2nd was the 20th running of the Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run. It was a record-breaking day with over 480 participants, the most ever in the history of the run. A new course record was set in the 5K by Christian Ricketts, a 13 year old Paulding Middle School student with a time of 16:11. However, the biggest record that was broken that day had nothing to do with attendance or speed. It was 3 ½ year old Trevor Bell who broke all the records by having the biggest heart in his display of strength, courage and determination.
Trevor ran the entire 1-mile kid’s course on a prosthetic leg, and when he turned the corner towards the finish line, the cheers that erupted in the crowd were like nothing I’d ever heard before. When he crossed the finish line to a standing ovation, I don’t believe there was a dry eye in the crowd. He was so proud of his accomplishment and posed with his arms up in the air like Hulk Hogan for a picture! I spoke with Trevor’s mom after the run, and she shared with me that Trevor was born without his left femur. The youngest of three, he’s just a regular kid trying to keep up with his older brother and sister!
While we love to recognize the fastest, and deservingly so, we also can’t help but recognize this little champion who embodies the true spirit of competition. The Marianne Talley run was established to honor Marianne’s love of health and fitness for people of all ages and abilities and is the primary fundraiser for the Marianne Talley Foundation. This run is not just for the seasoned runners, it’s also for all the walkers and joggers and those who were out there participating in an event like this for the first time. Everyone who started and finished had their own personal victories as well, and perhaps broke their own personal records. We thank all the participates this year in raising much needed funds for the Marianne Talley Foundation that will be used for scholarships for college-bound athletes from Arroyo Grande High School.