A race to find a cure | PostIndependent.com

A race to find a cure

Mike Vidakovich
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mike Vidakovich

Many moons have come and gone since I last ventured up Aspen way for a running race. That’s a far cry from the days when my running brethren and I used to make events such as the Aspen Times 5, Suicide Hill 5K, and the Golden Leaf Half-Marathon regular stops on the racing tour. Suicide Hill was the favorite, and a rite of summer.

Standing at the starting line of Saturday’s Race for the Cure 5K at Aspen’s Rio Grande Park, I was caught up in the scenery of the beautiful day and the good memories of races past at the 8,000-foot altitude.

I also found myself giving more than a passing glance to several of the women’s backsides. Nope, it’s not what you’re thinking. I was reading all the pink placards that were pinned to the backs of shirts in support, or memory of, a friend or relative who has battled breast cancer.

I was so moved, I felt like asking everyone how the disease had affected their lives and if everything was OK and safe with them.

The Race for the Cure started back in 1982. It was born from a promise from Nancy Brinker to her sister, Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer at the age of 36. The Aspen chapter of the race organization has been active since 1991 and has raised more than $4 million for breast cancer education, treatment and screenings.

Seventy-five percent of the money raised at the Aspen Race for the Cure stays in the tri-county area of Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle counties. Breast cancer affects one in eight women, and the risk of developing the disease increases with age, especially for those who are 50 years and older. Early detection still offers up the best defense.

When I completed the race, I found a shaded, grassy bank near the finish line and watched as hundreds of women and men rode breathlessly upon their final steps of the run. Most wore the pink cards on their backs, and a story of inspiration written on their faces.

Basalt native Lauren Redfern, who was a standout basketball player for her alma mater Longhorns and had a decorated career at Fort Lewis College in Durango, was at the race, running in honor of her grandmother.

“I did the race for my grandma Helen, who lives in Denver,” said Redfern, who is a teacher and coach in Basalt. “She had a double mastectomy, but is doing fine now.”

Based on her smile and enthusiasm, I’ll bet grandma Helen feels blessed to have someone like Redfern in her corner.

Craig Macek, a local runner and director of the Lead King Loop races in Marble, offered up a candid view of the day’s events as he was stretching just prior to the race.

“I always like to get out and do some of the local races and support the different causes,” said Macek. “You can’t find a better cause than this.”

Supporters of the cure numbered more than 1,500 at Saturday’s race in Aspen.

To make a donation to the fight against breast cancer, visit http://www.komen.org.

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer for the Post Independent.

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