"Imagine giving birth to a child, only to see him whisked away to neonatal ICU for an unexpected mass found in his neck.
"Liam was born January 5, 2010. A few hours later we were told the mass was called cystic hygroma. A condition now called lymphatic malformation which affects 1 in 2,000 to 4,000 births." (www.liamsland.org)
This was my first introduction to Liam, his local family, and the organization "Liam's Land for Lymphatic Malformation." Staring at the computer, I could not help but think of my own four healthy children.
I thought of the children of friends who had passed far too soon from various ailments. And I thought of my own lost child.
After my Cremator 50 mile race in July, I seriously decreased my training routine. Ramping up for a race like that had taken a lot of time. I was going to have to re-adjust my schedule a bit. There was nothing on my race calendar.
But how could you not run for Liam?
When I arrived at the race site in Whitemarsh Island Preserve, it was easy to see I wasn't the only one that thought the same thing. While I'm of the opinion that ultra race start lines are some of the happiest places on earth, this one had something even more special.
"The running community in Savannah is, above all else, one of the most generous groups of people we've ever met," remarks Tony Varney, a local Savannahian and IT Helpdesk Manager for BrasselerUSA.
"Their generosity is shared not only through dollars but also their time and their willingness to donate supplies."
I'd like to point out that Tony does this as well. Tony was the race coordinator for this widely successful event that raised $3,500 to support Liam's Land. BrasslerUSA was the Gold Sponsor of the event.
"Ultras often feel more like a family gathering than a competition. This idea was reinforced by the positive energy from the racers, volunteers, and crew members who came together to make this event successful," says Tony.
Joey Morcock (41.14 miles) and Lara Zoeller (39.27 miles) took the top male and female places for the 6 hour race. For the 12 hour solo run, Kyle Brandenberger (63.58 miles) and Karen Jackson (54.23 miles) earned the honors.
The Renegades (Michael Butler, Lee Ann Somers, Dawn Hannah, and Thomas Cook) went a total of 50.49 miles to best the 6 hour relay pack.
The 12 hour relay race was arguably the hardest fought race with only two teams competing. Watching Team Crazy Train and R.A.T.S. duke it out for 12 hours was worth the price of admission all by itself. At the end of the day, Team R.A.T.S. (Tony Murphy, James Sinclair, Allen Higginbotham, Drew Rabun) pulled it out with just over 100 miles logged — in 12 hours.
But some of the most impressive stuff was accomplished by folks who simply love Liam. People like one of his nurses, Missy Sailer.
"Saturday night I did not feel it was a victory for me, as I hadn't gotten close to my goal," says Missy, "but Sunday brought a whole new perspective. I wanted to accomplish 31 miles so I could have a real 50K. I did 19 miles and had no stiffness, blisters, body discomfort at all! I remember when doing a 5K was a long run, and would present some discomfort. So all in all, 19 miles was huge for me."
Being able to run those miles for Liam added sweetness to them as well
Missy explains, "Liam is the love of my life. I've been with him since he came home from the hospital at 18 days old. We had no idea what his life would look like. There was not a lot of information about lymphatic malformation. But this boy was a fighter, just thrived, and never stopped amazing us!"
Liam was amazing that day and I can't tell you how excited I was to meet that dude in person. Remember I said I had cut my training way back. 12 hours solo was going to be difficult. So in the beginning, my running buddies Tiana and Jason and I just decided we were going to have fun.
And Liam was happy to oblige. Every fifth lap (9.37 miles) Tiana and I took a ride down the pirate bouncy house slide from Bounce Inflatables.
We cross the lap line and look at Liam. "Are you ready to go?" His face would light up and he'd run over to the slide and "teach" us how to do it right.
He is also getting the hang of this runner business. On one of my last laps when I was getting a bit tired, that smart kid had some gummy bears waiting for me. I was struck by the fact that while we are trying to be great for him, he is being great all the time.
"I think the event was such a huge success," Missy says. "The day was magnificent, the venue was perfect, and the company was exquisite. In retrospect, it was the perfect thing to be doing on a fall day. I can't wait till next year. I do see this as 1of the events people will wait all summer for."
I agree. And I hope they bring back the bouncy house.