POWAY, Calif. – It’s not common to be a marathoner. Fewer than 1% of Americans has ever competed in one, research from RunRepeat shows.
But there are some people like Poway natives Jim and Tess Putrow who spontaneously decide to try it out.
The father-daughter duo are running in the famed New York City Marathon this weekend with the Marfan Foundation Charity, a New York-based nonprofit which works to improve the lives of people with Marfan syndrome and other genetic aortic and vascular conditions.
The charity’s namesake is a genetic disease affecting the heart as a connective tissue disorder.
It’s a cause that’s close to the Putrows’ hearts, as the disease ultimately took the life of Jim’s father and led him to join the Marfan Foundation Charity’s board. When Jim learned the nonprofit would use the marathon as a fundraiser, he knew he had to be a part of the team and asked his daughter to join.
“There’s the motivation for both Tess and I,” Jim said, “even though she runs much faster than me but there’s the aspect of she’ll push me or I’ll push her. Like no, no, we’ve got to do this. Let’s keep going.”
Some might ask what could go wrong in attempting a 26.2-mile race without any real experience. But that’s the decision they came to 18 months ago when the charity began putting a team together for the marathon.
Jim said he has an older son in college, but that he had no desire to run the race. He soon found that Tess was “more motivated” for the attempt.
“She’s on a gap year right now from college,” he said, “so that’s where she had the time to put into the training, as well as being able to do the marathon.”
To embark on such a challenge would require accountability, so they joined a running club known as The West Coast Roadrunners. They run every Saturday and according to Jim, “there’s no excuse” not to be there.
“If I don’t show up, I know I will get calls and be harassed about why I didn’t go,” he said, “so it’s been a good motivator to make sure we got out and did the miles.”
They’re excited to run the race Saturday where waves of runners will start the trek beginning at 8 a.m. local time. It starts on Staten Island and travels through the city’s five boroughs before finishing in Manhattan. Health and safety protocols remain in place due to the pandemic after last year’s race was canceled.
More than the race, the father-daughter duo are just grateful for the chance to make memories while sharing a unique experience.
“There’s not many other situations where I think where Tess is willing to get in the car with me at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning as we’re driving to start the running club at 6 a.m. or 6:15 once it’s light out, so that works out really well that we have some of that one-on-one time together,” Jim said.
Donations to the Marfan Foundation Charity can be made online at marfan.org/donate.