What inspires you to run? Is it for fitness? Escape from reality? For a peace of mind? Or is it for something other than yourself? Perhaps your miles are in memory of a loved one. Or in support of those who lack the ability to run. This past weekend, I witnessed an incredible journey of two teams who ran the Ragnar Relay SoCal in support of Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). I felt grateful and inspired to be a part of these teams. They dedicated much of their time towards training and raising funds to help children and adults who are affected by different types of muscle disease.
I don’t have a personal attachment to MDA. Since I was given the opportunity to be the San Diego’s Team Momentum Coach this year, I’ve had the chance to meet several people directly affected by MD. One person who captivated me is a phenomenal runner and a father named Abel. His heartwarming story was featured on Ragnar’s blog, a few days before the race.
For Abel Alejandrino, running is about more than just himself. Running is about inspiring his daughter, Ava, who checks his phone when he walks in the door to see if he’s accumulating his miles.
Ava was diagnosed with nemaline myopathy at the age of five, a disorder similar to muscular dystrophy that causes weak muscles and thread-like muscle fibers. A year ago, Abel began running in honor of her and to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He pledged to accumulate 100 miles every month, run an ultra-marathon and now, he is running Reebok Ragnar So Cal, not only in her name, but while holding a giant cutout of her face on each of his legs. Continue to read his story on this LINK.
Abel ran 14 legs holding a cut out of his daughter to inspire her to get out and run. #RagnarSoCal . . . . #RagnarRelay #innerWILD @mdateammomentum #UnforgettableScenery
I had the chance to finally meet Abel and the rest of his crew at one of the exchanges on Friday night. I was thrilled to meet the team in person. They were some of the nicest people and were very welcoming. All are members of a non-profit organization, Concrete Runners (CR) based out of San Francisco. CR inspires a community of running and fitness lifestyle by providing free run events for all levels of runners. With Abel as their captain, they represented Ava’s CRew at the Ragnar Relay.
At this point, Abel has already ran at least seven of the twelve legs and close to 40 miles. He didn’t look tired to me at all. His goal was to finish with 75+ miles! Like I mentioned, a phenom runner!!
The final stretch of the leg is when all the team members reunited to run through the finish line. Ava ran next to her father and crossed the finish line together with the team. It was such a moving experience for me as I watched the emotions flow out from everyone. I couldn’t help but feel emotional myself. It was definitely a memorable experience for me as someone who was supporting from the sidelines. I can only imagine the tremendous impact it had on the team to finish an epic and meaningful race.
If you’d like to follow Abel’s campaign, check out his Facebook page, Run For MDA.
Visit this link to learn more about MDA Team Momentum