Marathon Sunday, 2015
On Sunday, May 3rd, just 2 days before World PH Day, Team PHenomenal Hope stepped out to raise awareness about pulmonary hypertension in a big way in a huge event. More than 30,000 runners competed in the 26th Pittsburgh Marathon, and Team PHenomenal Hope recruited – friends, athletes and volunteers – to join us in racing in and supporting our hometown’s largest amateur sporting event, and one of the 20th biggest marathons in the USA.
Why the Pittsburgh marathon?
Team PHenomenal Hope is an endurance team dedicated to utilizing endurance sport as a lightning rod to raise awareness about pulmonary hypertension (PH). PH is a disease that affects more than 25 million people around the world. There are many forms of PH, and there has been much progress in treating this disease; however it remains a chronic illness, and in most cases there is no cure. Furthermore, patients often go years (yes, years) without the proper diagnosis, delaying potentially life-saving treatments for all that time. And this need to raise awareness exists inside and outside of the medical community.
Finding a cure for PH begins with raising awareness, and that begins with starting a conversation, putting PH on the map all over the country and world. What better way than to go big in the Pittsburgh Marathon, supporting this event and its runners and painting the field purple to help raise PH awareness.
Our Team PHenomenal Hope marathon team was composed of athletes, family, friends and PHriends (friends who have PH), members of the medical community, members of the pharmaceutical industry, and more. Some on this team know a lot about PH, as they literally live it or care for someone with the disease, and others had heard about PH or Team PH and wore our colors to support our team in a major endurance event. All came together on marathon Sunday, and it became more than just an event. But first, the race report…
Near the starting line of the race, Team PH runners checked in at Six Penn Kitchen, our “Race HQ” for the Marathon, and Team PH cyclists donned race radios and joined up with Team Freddie Fu in escorting the wheelchair and handcycle athletes at the front of the race.
At Mile Marker 8, reportedly one of the busiest hydration stations in the race, volunteers arrived well before dawn. At 05:30 our team received our marching orders from the extremely professional marathon operation (the marathon organizers are super awesome). Before dawn our team was filling and stacking thousands of cups with water and Gatorade, anticipating over 30,000 people (yes, that many people) who would arrive in just a few hours. And on a day that would be unseasonably warm given recent trends, keeping runners hydrated would be critical. In addition to stacking cups, we hung signs to help make Pittsburgh #PHAware. Meanwhile, Tony Atkins from WPXI joined us (watch our WPXI Channel 11 piece!), interviewing Julia and Anna and then passing out water and Gatorade with Team PH. And then the runners started coming, and it was #GameOnPGH for our team!
For an inspiring race report about one of our runners who completed her first marathon, read our captain’s blog post.
What was this really all about?
The plan was to recruit runners and friends as well as volunteers to join us in this race, paint the field purple to generate interest in this global problem, and raise funds to donate to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association‘s critical work in funding research and patient services. But what happened turned into so much more than that.
You see the race was about a diverse community coming together on a day for a common cause, and when you look at the people who were doing the heavy lifting at the hydration station, you realize this was a microcosm of our community within the race! From athletes to doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners, and from researchers and members of the pharmaceutical community (they not only work to discover/provide life-saving therapies, they roll up their sleeves with and for their patients too), to patients who live with PH (or as they say people who have PH but PH doesn’t have them) and their families and friends, this group actually was a mini PH community all at Mile Marker 8.
It is this sense of community that made the marathon special. We all came together for a few hours on Sunday to take a step (thousands of steps) toward raising awareness and ultimately finding a cure for PH. And through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, even more people joined from afar. And when people come together for a cause, whether as athletes competing in races all over the world, or as a team running in and supporting our amazing hometown event, it shows me two things. One, by participating in whatever way possible, in person or at home, it is perhaps one small way that folks can take back a little control over something like pulmonary hypertension, and to fight back. And two, by coming together as a community, we all can provide hope: hope for those who live with PH, and hope to all that one day we will find a cure.
Thank you to all who joined us in racing to make a difference and raising PH Awareness.
Days of UNITY
The race continues. Over this next month it gets bigger – huge, in fact – as we race with the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA), our partner in this common cause of raising PH Awareness and funds to find a cure. We are so excited because partnering with PHA takes this mission of stepping out against PH nationwide and to the PH community. Team PH is proud to continue in this race with PHA.
For those new to our blog, PHA is the preeminent national nonprofit organization for pulmonary hypertension, founded by patients, that has blossomed into an organization that leads the way in patient advocacy. Among the myriad of amazing things PHA does, they serve patients through extensive support networks all over the country, advocate in Washington DC, educate medical professionals and others about PH, and fund medical research. It continues to be an honor and a privilege to race with PHA and the PH Community.
There are many people to thank for their help in the Pittsburgh marathon.
A huge thank you to all the racers, volunteers, and supporters of Team PHenomenal Hope!
Gilead Sciences – For sponsoring this event and providing us with super race bags
Eat’n Park – For supporting us at Six Penn Kitchen as our race HQ and with smiley cookies at Mile Marker 8
Fiks:Reflective – For the super snazzy custom race T’s
Actelion Pharmaceuticals – For providing cool water bottles and towels AND volunteers at our water station
Generation UCAN – For helping fuel our marathon team
Mojo Running and Multisport – For being a pre-race HQ for Team PH and distributing our gear to athletes at the Expo.
Printscape – For making our super signs
Vie13 Kustom – For designing our new uniforms that we unveiled this weekend
Pulmonary Hypertension Association – For racing with us in this journey as we kick off Unity Days
PHAware – For providing graphics for our awareness signs
Tony Atkins, WPXI – For helping us raise PH Awareness by sharing our story
As always, we thank all our sponsors for their outstanding support of Team PHenomenal Hope.