A group of locals are running in the New York Marathon to raise awareness about a condition that affects more than 230 million people worldwide: asthma.
The team of runners includes brothers Nick, Tom and Will Quin, Lauren Christie, Sarah Ivory, Jacqui Retief, Stephen Lill, James Aiken, David McGrath, Richard Horton, Stephen Leontsinis, Joanna Millar, Johan Prinsloo, Anita Zagorski and Terry Petyt.
The 26 mile race is so popular that runners either have to enter through a lottery system or under the banner of a charity.
“I persuaded about 27 people to sign up [for the lottery] and I think nine of us got through that way,” said Nick Quin.
“I entered through the lottery, never thinking I’d actually get in and had a near panic attack when I did,” said Ivory.
Several of the other runners, including Quin’s two younger brothers, entered through local and overseas charities, such as Asthma UK, which have a certain number of designated places in the marathon.
The experience level varies across the group: Some of the runners have had a great deal of experience participating in marathons and others are simply enthusiastic runners.
“There’s a couple of quite serious runners,” Quin said. “The rest of us are just runners but haven’t done anything more than… a half marathon.”
Despite the varied backgrounds and experience levels of the group members, the runners have come together in support of a common cause after Quin’s girlfriend, Alexandra Horner, passed away following an asthma attack.
It was Horner who first got Quin interested in running after they participated in the Cayman Half Marathon last year together.
“After she passed away, her friend Lauren Christie, who ran miles 6.5 to 13 with Alex after I ran from the start to 6.5 miles, suggested that we should run in New York in her memory,” Quin explained.
“We all feel pretty helpless in times like that and there’s really nothing anyone could do to help,” said Christie. “So, knowing that Nick liked to run, I thought he may benefit from focusing on a big project and so the New York Marathon seemed like a good idea at the time.”
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma kills eleven people everyday in the United States, and results in over two million emergency room visits per year.
Despite these statistics, most people do not realise how dangerous this chronic condition can be.
“I’ve always known friends growing up who had asthma but it was only when what happened to Alex that I realised how serious it really is,” Quin said. “One minute she’s there smiling and full of life, and the next minute she’s had an asthma attack and she doesn’t wake up.”
Quin is hoping that the runners will be able to use the New York Marathon to help those suffering from asthma.
“I want to raise awareness of and hopefully funds to diagnose, educate and treat asthma, the condition which contributed to Alex passing away,” he said.
The team is still working to determine the most effective use for the funds they raise. The possibilities include donating the funds to an existing asthma charity overseas, starting a local asthma charity, or donating money to the local hospital specifically to help patients with asthma.
“Some of the equipment can be quite expensive and some families can’t afford it,” Quin explained.
In preparation for the November event, the runners are slowly building up their endurance and steadily increasing their running times.
“We’re starting to do long runs on Saturday mornings, and those are the key ones,” Quin said.
The group will continue to run increasingly longer distances until they have built up to running 20 miles.
“You don’t actually do a full marathon before the race, you just want to do that on the day,” Quin explained.
The biggest challenge to the runners seems to be the summer heat – a problem they will not have to face when they run in New York in the fall.
“I’d say my biggest challenge to date is the humidity,” said Lill.
“Training during the summer months in Cayman is pretty grim as it is always hot and muggy,” agreed McGrath.
Ivory says that she runs at 4am to beat the heat.
“It’s so hot now [but] I hate running on a treadmill,” she said. “The thought of having to do that is the only thing that gets me out of bed.”
Most of the runners hope to complete the race in under four hours, competing mostly against the clock and themselves. For the three Quin brothers, however, there is an element of sibling rivalry in their racing goals.
“I would love to finish in under four hours but as long as I beat my younger brothers I don’t really care,” said Quin.
For more information about the group’s efforts contact Nick Quin at [email protected]