BRUNSWICK, Ohio (WJW) — COVID-19 may have canceled the Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon.
But it didn’t cancel Ashley King’s marathon. And when she hit the pavement Saturday morning in what was supposed to be a covert make-up operation, she wasn’t alone.
All of her neighbors and friends were waiting for her with signs, water, chalk messages, cheers and words of encouragement as she ran her 26 miles. Some even ran with her.
“I literally spent half of the run fighting back tears behind my sunglasses. It was so amazing. And obviously I ran a lot faster with everyone watching,” she said.
King has been running races for 15 years, but hasn’t done a full marathon in about 10. She said she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to finish without the marathon environment. But she finished Saturday in three hours and 45 minutes.
Not only did she run the race for herself — she used it as an opportunity to help others. Her neighbor, who owns Hooley House restaurants, came up with the idea of donating a meal to a local health care worker for every mile King ran.
Her husband, Jonathan, then set up a GoFundMe to raise money for even more meals, and they raised just over $1,500. They’ll use the money to purchase gift cards so the health care workers can buy meals for themselves and their families
“While running I was thinking about all of those people who are working the front lines for us,” she said in a Facebook post. “Nurses, doctors, police ( my brother )…those who work at the stores, and soo many others that I can’t name. I hope they know how much we support them, and we thank them.”
King said the whole experience has reminded her “I can always overcome.”
“We will all overcome these next few weeks, months, whatever the timeline may be,” she wrote in her post. “We might need the help of a little sunshine, a few tears, lots of prayers and surprise support from our friends, but we will overcome.”