The Collegian
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Students warm up for Richmond marathon

Senior Patrick Joseph accepted a job as an investment-banking analyst at SunTrust Personal Finance in Atlanta, Ga., last month and decided to run in the Richmond SunTrust Marathon three weeks before the race. He said the incentive of showing his future co-workers at SunTrust how ambitious he was before he would have to work 120 hours a week would take him across the finish line.

Joseph is one of several Richmond students planning to participate in the SunTrust Richmond marathon, which also includes half-marathon and 8K races.

Jackie Holt, public relations and communications assistant for Sports Backers, said Richmond was a standout marathon for many reasons.

"Richmond has some of the strongest crowd support with tons of companies handing out Accel gels, shots of Gatorade and Clif Bars," she said.

There will be 30 bands playing all types of music along the track, she said. The Richmond Times-Dispatch will also be hosting a community cheer challenge that will pay groups $250 to throw a party along the course. Prize money will be awarded to the top 10 groups that throw the best celebration. From bands to giveaways to cheer challenges, it is important to keep runners entertained, Holt said.

Jeannie Neaylon, president of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority at the University of Richmond, said the chapter had organized a team for anyone interested in running for the Jamie and Paige Malone Fund. There currently are nine runners doing the 8K and two participating in the half marathon in honor of the Malones, but there are plans to open the team to the Richmond community.

"Jamie and Paige were very active individuals and I am sure they would love to see us participating," Neaylon said.

They also plan to meet up with the Theta chapter from the University of Virginia, which suffered a similar tragedy when Yeardley Love was murdered last spring. Through Facebook, the Internet and other fundraising, Holt said the group running for Love had raised $30,000.

Donate Life is the official race charity of the SunTrust Richmond Marathon, which works to increase organ, eye and tissue donation.

Junior Mimi Brown ran in the Richmond half-marathon last year, and this year has decided to set a new personal goal -- to run the full marathon.

"I am very competitive with myself, and once I set a goal I can't turn back," she said. "Running is a perfect way for me to clear my head and the most important thing is to stay motivated by setting goals."

While Brown has a more regimented schedule with a specified amount of miles she runs each day, Joseph said he made sure that he ran a minimum of 10 miles in each workout at least twice a week.

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The Sports Backers offer a 14-week training program for people running the half marathon and a 23-week training program for full marathon runners.

Joseph said he had been eating twice as much as he usually did because he had been burning so many calories.

"I just spent $20 at the Pier for one meal," he said.

Joseph said he was most worried about miles 16 to 22, when runners' bodies start to shut down and the onset of boredom begins. The music, people and adrenaline help get you through the pain, Brown said.

Runners are not required to have a qualified time and are permitted to walk. But, the half marathon course will close after four hours; the full marathon course closes after seven hours.

Holt said when she stood at the finish line, it was an emotional experience.

"After every marathon I break down in tears when I see runners' families hug them," she said. "The emotions are rolling and people are just so thrilled that they made it."

Joseph said he planned to do a cartwheel across the finish line, and Brown said she might have to throw a party the week after to celebrate.

The marathon will start just east of 7th Street on Broad Street heading west and will finish on Cary Street east of 9th Street.

According to, there was a total of 15,723 runners in 2009, and 5,188 of who ran the full 26.2 miles.

Holt said: "Richmond embraces this world class event and it is a great opportunity for the Richmond community to volunteer and cheer on our runners."

Contact reporter Amanda Sullivan at

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