Wellesley residents Beth Cook (left) and Sheila Corkhill (right), like so many runners training for the Boston Marathon, have had their share of challenges. The snowy and icy conditions have made training tricky and unsafe — Cook recalls running in hip deep snow and Corkhill describes diving into a snowbank to avoid getting hit by a car on the Rte. 128/Rte. 16 bridge. What’s more, Cook is bouncing back from a foot stress fracture and Corkhill has suffered extreme knee pain.
But they both realize that their struggles pale in comparison to those of friend Carol Chaoui, a fast runner who finished last year’s marathon less than a year after being diagnosed with breast cancer. This time around, Chaoui has been sidelined by 2 heel stress fractures and some bone marrow issues, only recently getting back on the road (“I had to take a total of 6.5 months off. I’ve had a lot of injuries due to residual side effects from chemo and tamoxifen, and have had 6+ surgeries in the past year and several biopsies.”).
But Chaoui has been coaching Cook (donate here) and Corkhill (donate here), both of whom are running for Team Brigham/Team Chaoui to raise money for the Breast Health Care Access Program at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (they’ve raised more than $12K between them). The program provides mammograms and follow-up care at no charge to women who are uninsured or underinsured.
Cancer has struck close to home for Corkhill as well. Her father died from the disease 15 years ago from the date of this year’s marathon. Corkhill says she pledged years ago, as a student at Boston College who used to come out to cheer on runners, to run the race one day. “Having Carol as my ‘coach’ has been a blast. Her running knowledge is phenomenally expansive and she continues to prop me up as the big day approaches.”
Cook grew up in Natick, and started getting the Boston Marathon bug somewhere along the way. After running the Covered Bridges half marathon in 2009, that bug returned, and Chaoui’s invitation to run for her team turned the wish into reality. “This [Faulkner] program serves a vital need and is important to me as a woman, a mother of two daughters and a public health professional,” says Cook, who did a lot of her winter running on the relatively clear Commonwealth Ave. carriage road.
According to the Boston Marathon website, more than 80 Wellesley residents are registered to run the race on April 18. The marathon course in Wellesley goes from about Mile 12 to a bit before Mile 16, winding going through the scream tunnel at Wellesley College, then through Wellesley Square, Wellesley Hills and Lower Falls.