It's hard to put into words the magic of last weekend's Rock The Ridge 50-mile endurance challenge through the Mohonk Preserve in upstate New York. Maybe there was something in that crisp, mountain air, or maybe it was the coming together of a special group of Team Fox members — all determined to tackle 50 miles, either on their own or as part of a relay team.
There was Tom Sabourin — a veteran Team Fox athlete who has summited Kilimanjaro and crossed the Grand Canyon with Team Fox — who, despite nursing a foot injury, still conquered all 50 miles, and with a smile on his face. Liz Diemer, Associate Director of Team Fox, also took on the challenge of all 50 miles with her sister Caroline, finishing arm in arm after 17 hours of hiking the course. And let’s not forget Team Fox members Myrdin Thompson, Gene Gurkoff, Jessica Tracy and Seth Manthey who also became ultra-marathon runners by completing the entire 50 mile course.
There was also the three Kelly siblings — Jennie, Mary and Michael — who I personally laced up with to form relay team "Do it for Dads,” in tribute to our dads who are both living with Parkinson's. But without a doubt, our two other relay teams really stole the show and managed to capture the spirit of both Team Fox and true athleticism.
Team Fox members Mekea Radicchi, Jimmy Choi, Joyce Chu, Bill Bucklew, Chris Tracey and John Ryan are all living with Parkinson’s, but not a single one of them is allowing their diagnosis to slow them down. The six runners, some meeting for the first time in person, were split between two teams — The PD Pathfinders and The Fox Avengers — each running anywhere from 10 to 27 miles. What started as an unique idea to bring runners with Parkinson’s together for a relay style event quickly turned into something far more powerful than just racking up mileage.
When asked what Rock the Ridge meant to them, there were a handful of words consistent throughout: bond, limitless, support, hope and family. Joyce Chu summed up the experience simply stating that “as beautiful as the course was on a perfect day, it was really the people that made it such an amazing weekend,” and John Ryan added, “We started this run as individuals but we finished as a team!”
Watching these athletes complete this challenge proved that there is no limit for what we can accomplish together. “As we crossed the finish line,” adds Chris Tracey, “it felt, in a very real way, like nothing could stop us from achieving our ultimate goal: a cure for Parkinson’s.”
Congratulations to all Rock the Ridge team members — together, your ultra-marathon miles raised nearly $30,000 towards a cure for Parkinson’s. #GoTeamFox