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The Royal Gazette asked participants of The Royal Gazette Bermuda Triangle Challenge 2020 to consider the question, 'Why I run?” and to share their replies with us.

The responses have been heart-warming and moving. We thank you for sharing your story with us. Below are some of the responses we received.

Lisa Gorke wrote: “Three years ago, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and I was over 200lbs. I felt terrible and knew something had to change. I had always wanted to run but I could barely finish a block let alone a mile. So two years ago I signed up for my first 5K and started the couch to 5K programme. I ran four 5Ks last year and a friend invited me to come to Bermuda for the BTC. I started training and was diagnosed with skin cancer. I wasn't able to work out for three weeks and I thought my chances of finishing a half were done. But I remained focused and am up to almost nine miles. I feel confident that I will finish the half!

“Through running and cycling, I have lost 40lbs, have become an athlete at 45, and eliminated type 2 diabetes. I am healthier than ever. I feel like I have found the most amazing people and community in running. After working so hard to finish a half for the BTC, I decided to take a chance and keep the momentum going by running the NY Half in March for JDRF, to fund research to eliminate T1D.”

Allison Levy wrote: “I just turned 50 in September and I recalled what most of my friends were telling me about this half-century age mark. 'It only goes down here from here.' 'Your body will start making all kinds of weird changes.' 'You'll start getting flab where you didn't think possible.' Uh, heck no I said. I will fight into my 50s and beyond. I will keep going. I will not play into this role of getting old. In fact, this Bermuda Triangle Challenge is exactly the “throw it in their face” challenge that I need to show them, to show anyone acquiring years on the body does by no means make you OLD. In fact, thinking back over eight years ago, long distance running wasn't even in my vocabulary. I always thought it would be cool to run a marathon, heard others talking about it, but never minded it after that.

“That is until my friend Craig, who was turning 58 and had survived cancer, told me he was running the Disney World Marathon. What the hey? Good for you Craig. Then a few short years later, I moved from Virginia to Florida and Craig came back into my mind. All those excuses I had so many years ago, too cold, too hilly, too 'fill in the blank', were now gone. Soooo, thinking on Craig, I realised I had no more excuses and he did it at the age of 58 and a cancer survivor, surely I can too.

“So I did. I ran my first ever marathon at Disney World in 2013 and as of today, have completed 18 full marathons, over 30+ half marathons and too many too count 5Ks. In fact, I just placed first in my age division at the Viking Dash Trail Race in Milwaukee this month, and completed that 18th marathon in Madison, WI where I currently live (yes cold and hilly).

“I embrace running because I value life. Life for me is being active and while being the oldest on the trip, not being the slowest.”

Anne-Marie (Harris) Bell, a Bermudian currently living abroad, wrote: “Why do I run? At age 53 I run for me! I also run for my health both physically and mental. Running fills my bucket: laughs and friendships, travel, great beer and wine after a good long run with friends, strength, tone, fitness, example for my kids to undertake any challenge, problem solving as I run, working through pain when injured, getting through tough cold New England winters, competition with myself and against others, yet co-operative kindness raising money for charities such as the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society, Martha's Vineyard Community Health Service and my latest charity Animal Society for Protection Against Cruelty of Animals.

“Running has gotten me through post graduate school at age 47 to become a nurse practitioner. Running has got me through a painful unexpected divorce. I goal-set and accomplish those goals! Running keeps my competitive juices in motion. Mostly cliché as it may sound, however, running brings me happiness being outdoors all year in the fresh air in all conditions seeing the beauty of our nature no matter where I am.

“Bermuda is my island home of birth and to me will always be my home in my heart whether I am here or in the US. I am so grateful to run on this island bringing now a third group of friends to enjoy these turquoise waters with Bermuda family and friends. I thank the race organisers for putting on such a fun and well-polished event this year in the midst of winter. Amity Island Running Club group thanks you all (Martha's Vineyard Island, MA USA). This is my current other island home. Next goal…..train for 50th year of the NY City Marathon Nov 1, 2020 raising at least $3500 for the ASPCA.”

Mary McManus, from Boston, wrote: “After a serious knee injury in December of 2014, I was told I should stop running and prepare for a total knee replacement. I once again harnessed the power of the mind/body connection and revamped my training regimen. Running Bermuda was on my bucket list for years and in 2016, 2017 and 2018 I ran the Bermuda Half Marathon.

“In 2018, my husband and I were joined by our daughter after she had numerous hospitalisation without any clear diagnosis. We ran the Bermuda Half Marathon together!

“From February of 2018 until August of 2019, Ruth Anne endured 14 hospitalisations and numerous visits to urgent care until I was able to make the diagnosis of an auto immune condition called PANDAS that she had lived with since childhood and adolescence, but it was misdiagnosed as other conditions. With proper treatment, she started running again in early September after a two-year hiatus.

“We had abandoned the idea of returning to Bermuda to run during Race Weekend because we were all so exhausted from Ruth Anne's health crises. My husband was even registered for the Challenge after we returned from the island in May after a long weekend. We were going to go to another warm destination and relax by the pool and go to the beach for our midwinter getaway.

“Yesterday (Sun 12/29) we decided that just sitting on a beach somewhere did not serve Ruth Anne's recovery or our collective mental health. We have been in Bermuda for Race Weekend since 2016 (Tom ran the 10K last year).

“Within a few hours, our flight was rebooked to Bermuda and The Royal Palms had a room available for us at the same rate they quoted last May. It was meant to be! Just as I use running to heal from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma, our daughter finds that running is her best medicine! She has been running five miles on Heartbreak Hill for the last month. She ran a Jingle Bell race that was all hills.

“Running weaves together a beautiful fabric of our lives together as a family. While my pace is slower, we always find a way for them to run at their pace and we meet up along the way. Running is our therapy, our path to health and wellness, a source of great joy and tests our mettle while forging friendships to last a lifetime. We are out in nature, unplugged living life to the full transcending the challenges that life has presented to us. We run to inspire others that they are not their diagnosis.

“Ruth Anne is poised and ready to run her first 10K since 2018 and to leave the past three years of her life in the rear-view mirror excited to run along pink sand and turquoise blue water on race weekend.”

Doug Richards, of Redditch, UK, wrote: “I was a relatively late starter on the running scene, not going for my first one-mile run until I was 33 years old. However, I soon became hooked and found it had enormous benefits, not only for my physical health, but also on my mental wellbeing, as I have suffered several severe episodes of anxiety and depression throughout my life. I have always kept a diary of my runs and now, at 71 years of age, I have clocked up over 22,100 miles since that first one-mile run. I have been lucky enough to have travelled widely to experience running in many parts of our planet, and have completed at least a half-marathon on all seven continents, Including Antarctica. I have run in environments as hot as the Gobi and Sahara deserts, and as cold as the north polar ice-cap in Greenland and in a wintry Siberia. In the past year, I have been focusing on running on islands, and have completed events on Easter Island, Sao Miguel island in the Azores, and Cyprus. This will be my very first visit to Bermuda, and I am really looking forward to the challenge.

“Running has played an enormous part in my life's experiences, and I have been able to document my struggles and triumphs in two books, Running Hot & Coldand Can We Run With You Grandfather? My publishers have recently asked me to write a third book, and it would be great to include my experiences in Bermuda within this. My goal now, health permitting, is to reach a total mileage of 24,902 miles, the circumference of our planet at the equator.”

Scott Bowes, of Mars, Pennsylvania, wrote: “Good evening. I wanted to take a minute and share with you why the Bermuda Triangle Challenge is so meaningful to us. Ken Lehman, a citizen of Bermuda who currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA shared our story in the e-mail below. After reading it, I felt compelled to reach out as well, expressing my heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to run in Bermuda's signature running event as I am the father of the girl Ken references. Ken notes that a group of us have attended and/or participated in the Challenge event over the past few years. What he doesn't mention is how our running group has evolved over the years, leading us to this moment, where my friends are sacrificing time and energy to help a family heal and bring awareness to a meaningful cause.

“Our group didn't form overnight. It was over a few years' span, through a series of random interactions that led us to come together, to begin running together. While none of us would consider ourselves a top tier runner, we do appreciate and celebrate our accomplishments together. That togetherness, the support for one another, has never been more evident than now.

“Ken is correct, my daughter was a very successful runner, winning a number of races, and the holder of many school records. Her athletic performance was constantly improving, knowing no bounds. However, life is unpredictable. Upon her diagnosis, Mckenna spent nearly a month in and out of the hospital. She knows her life will never be the same, but has approached her new challenges with the same fighting spirit that has always been on display.

“As of today, Mckenna continues her recovery, having shown much improvement, and has even started running again. I never thought I would be sitting here today, writing to you about my daughter with Lupus and our mission to raise awareness and funds to fight this disease. I also never thought I would have such meaningful friendships ….as I said, life is unpredictable. Thank you for considering our story.”

Kenny Lehman, of Wexford, Pennsylvania, in the e-mail referenced above by Scott Bowes, wrote: “First off, I want to say we love this race and have participated in the Bermuda Triangle Challenge the last five years. We bring a group of 10-13 people from Pittsburgh, PA every year. I am a citizen of Bermuda and my family currently lives on the island. My family is the Lindo's, who own Lindo's Market.

“My reason to run the full challenge this year was very easy. I'm running for a 16-year-old girl in Pennsylvania named McKenna Bowes. She was well on her way to becoming an elite runner and going to a Division 1 University to run track. Every dream was about to be met until this July when she collapsed at a track meet. She was rushed to the hospital that day and several tests were run on her. A few days she was dealt a serious blow and diagnosed with a debilitating non curable disease called Lupus. I've coached her since she was nine and wanted to raise money and race for her in Bermuda! To date we have raised nearly 4,000 in her name! Her road will be long and hard but there will be 10 of us in Bermuda running for her and honouring her. You will see us on the course with custom #kennastrong shirts!

“So we would love nothing more to share her story and more about the disease Lupus! Looking forward to sharing her story with the world!”

Janice Bracken Wright, of Rome, Georgia, wrote: “I first visited Bermuda with my parents as a child in the 1960s, staying at the lovely Bermudiana Hotel in Hamilton. I fell in love with the island and remember every detail of that trip.

“When my husband Buster and I married in 1990, I knew that he would love Bermuda too. We stayed at the Oxford House on our first visit. We rented a moped for the first time. It felt like we visited every square inch of the country. He was smitten, too.

“Because Buster has been an avid runner all of his adult life, it seemed like the perfect Christmas gift to plan a long weekend in Bermuda for the International Race Weekend in 1996. We stayed at the Rosedon that weekend and for many race weekends to follow. After that first beautiful (and challenging) 10K run, we made the commitment to run that race as often as we could.

“We had to miss a few race weekends over the years because of illness, injury, or work-related responsibilities, but we look forward to running our twentieth Bermuda 10K in January of 2020. I have run the race in my 30s, 40s, 50s, and now 60s. Over the years, we have run the 10K in hot weather, cold weather, torrential rain, high winds, and even hail. It is always fun no matter what the weather, largely because of the spirit of the event with so many people lining the streets to encourage the runners. Buster is listed in the programme by his legal name which is Cecil Baker Wright III. So we always smile to hear people calling out 'Run, Cecil!' with the soft British e.

“About 12 years ago, we purchased a fractional ownership at Tucker's Point Golf Villas so that we could visit the island four or five weeks a year. Part of our contract ensured that we could always have space on race weekend, even though the property is technically closed for maintenance in January.

“We have joined in the life of Holy Trinity Church, Bailey's Bay, and have made so many local friends that we cannot run a mile of the race without seeing people we know cheering us on.

“I have framed all of my race numbers and medals. They are a daily reminder of the joy of running in Bermuda, our home away from home.”

Karen Panzirer, of New York, wrote: “When I received the email about the 2020 Bermuda Triangle Challenge, I just knew I had to participate. I turn 50 years old just two weeks later, on February 4 and I couldn't think of a better way to ring in my fiftieth lap around the sun than with running three races in three days in one of my favourite places on earth!

“We are from NY. My dad was terrified to fly. He wouldn't get on a plane to go anywhere however Bermuda was the only exception. He and my mom used to go once a year with some friends for a long weekend and it became very near and dear to them. My mom first introduced me to Bermuda in 2003, a year after my dad passed from a train accident (go figure). I was a young mom, 33 years old. My mom has carried on the tradition of coming back as often as we can, frequenting all of our favourite places! Every time we land she sings Bermuda is Another World, one of her favourites along with Yellow Bird. Bermuda has become a very special place in our hearts and our family. Bermuda truly is 'another world' ... there is no other place like it. This is why I am ringing in my fiftieth birthday by running around the island that brings me such happiness!”

Jose Andrade, wrote: “I run most Bermuda races many times many years and I participate on this race for many times and I run for health and I enjoy on the race day.”

Dennis Holt wrote: “I am not an athlete. I run because it is a way of celebrating life and demonstrating to my children that life is worth taking on regardless of circumstances. This is why I took up running longer distances when I was diagnosed with glioblastoma in April 2015.

“The oncologist told me that I had a year and a half, maybe two, to live. So, I started running 5Ks. When I was keeping company with my brother after his wife died of lung cancer, he encouraged me to join him for a BAA 10K run in Boston with him. He said, if you can do five you can do 10.

“It was a wonderful way of being together after many years of being apart. In April 2020 it will be five years since my diagnosis, surgery, radiation, and chemo. I am now 74 going on 75. After completing several 10K races, the natural next thought was: if you can do 10 you can do 20, plus a little. I ran my first half-marathon on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, this December. My brother couldn't run because of an injured hamstring, but he came down to cheer me on, along with my wife — who has also been a treasure of encouragement. I am hoping to improve my time in Bermuda. I am very lucky to have survived this long. I will run in the spirit of gratitude, but also remembering all those, many surely more deserving than I, whose life has been cut short by this disease.”

Joseph I Emas, of Canada, wrote: “I am looking forward to returning to finish the Bermuda Triangle Challenge (as I completed the Challenge in 2015 at age 60).

“I would complete the New York Marathon in 2013, and, more recently, completed the London Marathon in spring of 2019, and Berlin in the autumn of 2019 (the latter two, finishing near the back but still incredibly grateful to cross the finish line, were marathons 37 and 38). I am also set to run the Tokyo Marathon on March 1, 2020 for my sixth World Marathon medal. However, I run for the lifestyle, the memories made during the training and in the race itself, and amazing people I meet along the journey!

“If interested, my history: http://www.xgames.com/espnw/athletes-life/showcase/9909069/4/joseph-emas-hey-back

I call it the old guy still running article!

Rebecca Koenig, of US, wrote: “I started to run just over two years ago. Up to that point, I had lived a none athletic lifestyle. The pivoting point in my life was going to the doctor and her pointing out that over five years I had gained 20lbs. She challenged me to lose the 20lbs in five years. What I took from that doctor's visit was that it was time I start to take care of me and my needs. During those five years my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's and Early Onset Dementia and I went through a divorce. That was a very rough time in my life and I had focused my energy on keeping my head above water and not on my health.

“The same week as meeting with the doctor, my mom was placed on hospice care. I was very close to my mother. I was a mommas girl and she was a major part of my life. Knowing we were heading into the end stages of her life was devastating. I knew I needed to find something to get me through this very hard time.

“I found that in running. It gave me a purpose to literally keep moving one-foot step at a time. I joined my local half-marathon in training team on a Saturday night and got up the next morning and made it to a three-mile run. I had to walk some of it, maybe most of it, but it was something to encourage me to keep moving (after all I did not know how to get back unless I followed the route forward).

“I made wonderful connections and lasting friendships. I would tell my mom what I was doing and where I was going on our training routes. I was running the half-marathon in honour of her and others who were not able to use their physical body like I could.

“My mom passed away the weekend after the half-marathon (three months after entering hospice care). I think she held on waiting to hear me tell her all about the race. At that point she was not able to talk, eat, or do anything but listen to me. Every run I do remains in her honour. I find it very cathartic and usually at least once along the way I cry in honour of all the amazing things she taught me. She gave me the strength when it was extremely painful and scary. She had taught me to keep going after dreams no matter how hard they are.

“Since she has passed, I have ran several half-marathons. This year I also completed my first full marathon. I am running the Bermuda Triangle Challenge to meet another goal of mine, running with my family. I have my sister and stepmother running the 10K with me. I plan on running the one mile, 10K and the half-marathon. I look forward to this experience. It will be my first race running alongside my sister and step mom. Thank you for allowing me to tell my story.”

PwC Bermuda sent the following message to highlight one of their employees, who is taking part in the weekend races. The company said: “Edwina Arorash, at 64 years young, is competing in her 16th Bermuda Triangle Challenge full marathon. Edwina is an administrative services executive at PwC Bermuda, the sponsor of the half and full Marathon.

She ran her first marathon challenge in 1997. And last year was her 38th year participating in the May 24 Half-Marathon Derby.

“Edwina first became interested in running when she saw Marionette Bean-Simmons run on May 24 for the first time. It's hard to believe that women were not taking part in marathons until the late 1970s.”

Ms Arorash said: “Marionette was the first and I believe the only woman to run May 24, in 1977, and inspired me to run. I got involved in training when they officially allowed women to run in 1978 and I ran it for the first time in 1979.”

PwC Bermuda added: “The Derby is important to Edwina because her uncle Leah Arorash and cousin Arthur Lambert ran the race when she was a child. They have since passed, and she wanted to keep their memory alive by running competitively.

She opted to do the Bermuda Challenge (Half-Marathon) from years 2015 to 2019, but this year marks her return to the full marathon!

“She started her almost daily training for the marathon back in August. Her advice for someone new to running and competing in the PwC Half/Full Marathon: be in great physical condition, have a checkup and let your doctor know your plans. If running the marathon, drink plenty of water leading up to the race and don't miss out on the water stops and 'not too much black rum on some of the stops!'

“She says to also make sure to warm up and stretch so you won't cramp during the race and have a healthy breakfast 1½ hour before the race. Eating a banana helps from cramping and make sure to wear comfortable sneakers, socks and apparel. Do not go out too fast. Run your own race!

“Edwina adds that running in Bermuda is an excellent way to meet people who all share a healthy common goal. She said 'No matter how fast or slow you are, there is nothing better than the 'runner's high' we all feel when we cross that finish line.'”

Christann Elisabeth Rogers, of the US, wrote: “I've always believed people who run are either running from something or running to something.

“Having been a runner for 40+ years, the first 10 for exercise (running from bad health or weight gain), the middle 10-20 to race and see things, and for exercise (running to a new destination, running to a prize or affirmation, but also running away from feelings of inadequacy, as a woman, a mom etc) and the past 10, where I have found the humbling pursuits of marathon and ultra-marathon trail running, always running to a new piece of God's creation, meeting a new friend along the way, learning things about myself in the silence and self-doubt. Not running from anything any more — always continuous forward motion. We miss the journey and the joy when we are looking over our shoulder.

“I run, simply because I can and I am grateful every single time I run for that reality. Most of what I have been is somewhere in the past — cancer survivor, supermom, wife ... yet being a runner has been and is always out in front of me. For that I am very grateful! So happy to be celebrating my 60th birthday in Bermuda, running, with my lovely daughter!”

• Another runner, who gave her name as Mary, wrote: “Fifteen years ago, I wasn't so sure I'd see 50. While I was pregnant with my daughter, I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma which spread to my lymph nodes and we worried it could have spread to the placenta and my baby. Two surgeries while pregnant and a lot of tests and scans during and after my pregnancy made me awfully nervous.

“The long story short is that my daughter was born healthy and cancer free. He name is Viva for “live long”. She will turn 15 in 13 days and is a runner (and varsity basketball player) now too! She is staying home this weekend for basketball practices. We will visit Bermuda again someday to run together.

“My grandmother worked for the Army in the 1960s as a librarian and was stationed on Bermuda, so it has always been my dream to visit. My grandfather actually flew his own plane from KY to Bermuda to propose to my grandmother. This will be a story I will always remember and treasure.

“Soooo you see ... coming to Bermuda to celebrate my half century is a dream come true for several reasons. I just hope the marathon and my body co-operate with me tomorrow for a strong finish. This will make my 60th marathon run in 25 years. Thanks for all you are doing to support the runners.”

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Published January 15, 2020 at 5:00 pm (Updated January 22, 2020 at 3:39 pm)

We asked why you run, here are some answers

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