Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Race for the Cure

The ending point of the race
On October 3 I finally accomplished one of my long term goals that I wrote down on January 1 of this year!  I participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for Breast Cancer in Denver.  I had done the race in Baltimore, MD, 2 years ago with Kim and a friend, Dana, and had a great time so I have been looking forward to this for a long time!  I was hoping that Carla or Kathi could do it with me but they both were busy.  The receptionist at the Urology Center had planned to do it with me but at the last minute she had to cancel, too, so I did it by myself (well, with 50,000 other people, really).

Lots of walkers were headed to the starting line from all over downtown!
  I got up really early the morning of the race because all the streets around the VQ Hotel were supposed to be closed for the race from 4 AM until 11:30 AM.  I thought I would need to ride the shuttle from the hotel to the race starting point across I-25 and the river at the Pepsi Center.  All ramps off and on I-25 along the race route were also closed although I-25 was left open.  (It was really fun when we crossed I-25 several times to hear the drivers lean on the horn to support us)  Anyway...... I got the shuttle and the driver figured out a route for us to get close to there.  It was still dark and I didn't want to walk alone but as we started out I noticed many people (hundreds!) walking towards the Pepsi center from all the side streets around our hotel!  It is the same area people park in for the Broncos games so I guess that was all the closer they could get to park for this event, too.

Many people were writing who they were walking in honor of.
We got to within 2 blocks of where I thought the race started (on Speer by the Pepsi Center) and people were converging on the parking lot there from all over downtown.  The parking lots there were being used for vendors and registration.  I arrived just about 7 AM when the first wave of the race for serious runners and walkers was to begin.  I had chosen to walk at 8 AM so I could take pictures and not try to break any walking records!  So I wandered around and found the coffee booth, got my race number and memory signs pinned on and took pictures of some of the outfits that were interesting to me.

The info on the race said dogs were not encouraged at the race but I saw several.  I loved this tutu!

Two pink cuties!
 That lasted until about 7:30 so I wandered out onto Speer and started following all the walkers.  I figured all the people were just getting a head start on the 8 o'clock race so I followed along.  I thought it was kind of funny that they didn't have any balloons or signs at the start but didn't worry too much about it.  We also saw many, many people going the other way toward the vendors.  After about 1/4-1/2 mile I spotted the start sign just ahead of us by the bridge near REI.  Very close to our hotel!!!  Just about that time they announced for people to start lining  up at the start sign for the 8 O'clock race.

I just followed the crowd.
All the people I was following just kept going but I decided to stop and see how they would start the race.  It was fun to check out all the costumes any way.  The TV camera people were there and getting lots of pictures, too.  Just before time for the race to begin, cheerleaders lined up on the other side of the starting line and 2 big cherrypickers loomed right over the starting line banner.  Tom Martino from channel 9 and a bunch of dignitaries were overhead!  there were some speeches and then they introduced Susan G. Komen's sister who started this whole event years earlier due to a promise she had made to her sister to rid the world of breast cancer!  She spoke and then joined us for the start of the race.

Starting line.  The two arrows are pointing at the cherry pickers.  Still no one on them yet.

The cheerleaders are ready for the start.
Tom Martino and organizers of the event were overhead ready to send us off!
We were sent off by a big cheer from the cheerleaders and a band playing the Lone Ranger theme from the William Tell Overture!  It was a beautiful morning and as we ascended the hill leading up to Federal Avenue, I looked back and saw a sea of pink and white as far as the eye could see.  What a view it was,  just overwhelming!  Looking ahead it was the same.  An incredible sight I will never forget.  As I was walking, I would race from side to side taking pictures of all the people who had come out to cheer us on and to see the spectacle!  There were people sitting in lawn chairs in their yards, cheerleaders from various high schools, volunteers, bands, DJs from local radio stations and much more!

Looking back at the early morning sun and the Denver skyline and a huge crowd of walkers as the band played the Lone Ranger song!

Cheerleaders from local high schools lined the street.

Proof I was really there!

Coming up on Safeway and the water stop.
As we approached Safeway (one of the major sponsors of the event in Denver) there were tables of water for us to pick up and a mariachi band and dancers.  At the local fire house which faces on Federal the firemen were standing in front of their engines all in pink shirts!  Many of the walkers ran over and took each others pictures with them.  At the Mystery Dinner Theater the actresses were out in front in costume posing for us to get pictures of them and to cheer us on.

The band at Safeway.

The firemen in pink are posing with walkers!

Mystery actresses posed and waved at us.

I think I need to go to this theater sometime.  It looks like fun!

I love these girls outfits!  The VFW band was playing for us too!
The big jog at Invesco field.  A disc jockey was playing tunes for the walkers.
We took a jog at Invesco field and could view the sight of walkers on the Colfax overpass!  What a sight!  As we made the bend onto Colfax it was a sea of walkers with the Denver Skyline and Colorado Capitol in the background. Very inspiring.

Walkers, walkers, walkers!  Notice way down there they are turning on to Colfax.

We're on Colfax!

The capitol and skyline in the distance.  Police were to the left and a helicopter overhead!
Then we were on the most famous part of the walk.  With a helicopter hovering overhead we made our way down the off ramp at Auraria Parkway which makes a loop just like the ribbon symbol for breast cancer.  Every year they show this part of the walk on TV.  At the top of the final hill is the 3 mile sign and it is all down hill from there.  At 3.2 miles the 5 K walk was finished in the parking lot of the Pepsi Center.

I am on the loop looking up at the walkers  on Colfax.
The top of the ribbon.

 Walking up to the top of the ribbon. 

The 3 mile mark.

Anyone for flamingos, Jason?
The end.  We made it!
Then the fun began with tables full of cases of water, apples, Sun Chips and Granola Bars.  Booths with all kinds of freebies and chances for drawings, booths to take pictures, booths handing out free samples of foods and drinks.  There were testimonials from survivors and their families, speakers and entertainment.  Thousands of people enjoying a perfect day!  I finally left to walk back to the hotel at about 11:30.

Susan G. Komen's sister autographs her book.

My favorite picture!  He must have gotten up too early!  Notice his number,  getting pretty close to the 50,000 mark.

A whole set of bleachers full of breast cancer survivors.

And another set of bleachers full of survivors--how inspiring is that?

On my walk back to the hotel some ducks on the South Platte.

Even Invesco Field got into the spirit. This is still on my way back to the hotel.

Bob met me at the front of the hotel and told me about what he saw from the Skybox of the VQ Hotel.  Too bad he didn't have a camera too because he got the birds eye view of 50, 000 people walking and running along Federal from a little after 7 AM to after 11 AM in a steady stream!  It was a great day and I am ready to do it again next year, maybe with some family and friends!

Some of my "loot" from my walk

My signs

Close ups of who I walked for.

My theory is that any cancer research helps all who have it so these are direct family survivors of cancer even though it wasn't all breast cancer!


  1. Wow Penny what a blog! Reading the story and viewing the photos is just like being there. Nice that you took the time to do this, I hope that these efforts lead to a cure for this cancer.


  2. What a crowd! That is wonderful that you got to participate! (And I do love the flamingo! :-) )

  3. I will mark my calendar in ink for next year! Great post Penny!!

  4. u rock penny - and yes lookin good in pink!!!!grand day for all - congrats! Sincerely, Karen Harris

  5. I love all of your pictures and I think it is so awesome that you did this. I can't wait for the marathon in February. =)

  6. Just amazing!!!! For sure Penny, next year, we are so there! I will drag Jean with us! Those photos were just inspirational, I must of read your blog about 10 times.
    Hope u and Bob are well, I sure do miss you guys!
    With lots of love,
    iris :-)

  7. We will make a party of it next year for sure!!!!