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April Hall of Fame Resident of the Month

4/1/2020

Congratulations to the April Hall of Fame Resident of the month - Gale Connor!

In 2001, at age 44, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At that time, I had a lot of bad habits and wasn’t living the best life. I stopped smoking, became a vegetarian, and started running. I did decide to keep this one habit, drinking. I figured that I was making enough changes that I could keep one little habit.

I got through many surgeries during the next year. I never had chemotherapy or radiation. I had no insurance at the time because I was a server and in those days, we never had any benefits including health insurance. A year after my initial diagnosis, I found out that I was supposed to have radiation but fell through the cracks. I did, however, take Tamoxifen for five years.

During the next 5 years, I went from a somewhat unhealthy individual to running half marathons, but in 2006, after a nasty DUI, I knew I had to quit drinking. I stopped cold-turkey (just like I quit smoking). During 2007, I started running a lot. I was getting faster and faster and to date, that was my fastest running year ever.

A year later, through a strange turn of events, I met the race director of an “ultra-marathon”. I really had no idea what that was. I did know about this weird 100 mile race held here in the Cleveland area and one down at Mohican State Forest but I didn’t know any details. Later, I found out that I actually knew other runners that had done these strange races. He tried to talk me into doing his new race in Titusville, PA. Not the 100 mile run, but a shorter distance. Ultra runs are any distance longer than the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. The shortest, common distance is a 50K, or 31 miles. I did not sign up for the race that year but the following spring the race director reared his ugly head, once again. After much consideration, I decided to sign up for the race and the rest is history. I found I loved the trails (most ultras are held on trails rather on roads), and the slower pace. The camaraderie among ultra-runners is second to none because of the inherent danger, between the distance and the terrain.

That was 12 years ago and I’ve never looked back. I am now 61 years old and not nearly done! The furthest I have run is 3 – 100Ks, which is 62 miles. My slowest 100k was just under 21 hours and my fastest was just under 19 hours. I have attempted a handful of 100 milers but have yet to complete one. I am currently training for one, down in Virginia, in September. The cut-off time is 30 hours. We do stop for food and a little rest, but we move around the clock. With COVID-19, I’m not sure if it will happen but I’m not giving up; it will happen!