Friday, May 18, 2012
Running around the world for sobriety
Courtesy of Pam Rickard
Pam Rickard participated in the Boston Marathon on April 16.
Courtesy of Pam Rickard
Rickard said she hopes to raise $10,000 for Runwell.
She ran the 116th Boston Marathon with a weighted backpack. Five days later, she ran the Blue Ridge Marathon, billed as the toughest road race in America. A week after that, she ran 57 miles in a 24-hour ultra marathon in Ohio.
But wait ... Pam Rickard isn't done yet.
What may sound exhausting to the average person is what Rickard, whose energy and enthusiasm could generate enough power for a small city, calls training.
In June, Rickard, who just turned 50, will be one of 156 participants running a footrace in China's Gobi Desert. More on that race later.
But Rickard isn't running just to run. She's taking on the Gobi challenge to raise awareness and financial support for Runwell, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting healthy living and lifestyles for people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.
According to its website, Runwell "believes partnering sports with addiction treatment helps to keep individuals - and their support bases - committed to recovery. The foundation focuses on funding existing scholarship programs and support-based training facilities that involve the entire family, as Runwell strongly believes addiction is seldom won alone."
Rickard met Runwell founder and fellow runner Linda Quirk through Harry Baskt. Baskt and Rickard became acquaintances after they were both featured in Liz Robbins' 2008 book, "A Race Like No Other," about the New York City Marathon.
Quirk was looking for Runwell ambassadors to serve in different regions throughout the United States and approached Rickard, who leapt at the chance.
Quirk has seen firsthand the effects of drug and alcohol abuse in her own family. Through Runwell, said Quirk, "We hope to break down the stereotypes and stigmas that go along with these diseases."
Rickard recently celebrated six years of sobriety. She serves as alumni coordinator and marketing liaison for The Farley Center, a treatment facility in Williamsburg. The purpose of going to Gobi and representing Runwell, she said, is twofold - to raise awareness and funding for treatment, education and research and to promote wellness through running.
The Gobi Desert race is one in a series of four presented by Racing The Planet, a company that organizes endurance races around the world. In addition to the Gobi, there's the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Sahara Desert in Egypt and a footrace in a different location each year in Antarctica.
Quirk is the first American woman and oldest person in the world to have completed all four desert races in a calendar year.
Of this year's 155-mile, seven-day stage race, said Rickard, "There are four American women and I'm the oldest. You're living out there and it's completely self-supported."
Having done the race herself, Quirk has been helping prepare Rickard for what to expect.
"Knowing Pam, she's going to absorb every ounce of everything," said Quirk. "She's going to eat all this up."
In addition to getting advice from Quirk, Rickard has been adhering to a strict training regimen and diet provided by Runwell coach Bob Seebohar, who served as the sport dietician for the 2008 Olympic triathlon team.
She's also been logging between 25 and 50 miles regularly with her weighted backpack, which, in China, will be used to carry water, Generation UCAN sports energy drinks (a sponsor) and other supplies.
To date, Rickard is halfway to her goal of raising $10,000 for Runwell. The money raised through Runwell will be used to award grants to approved treatment centers to conduct research and provide education about addictions.
"One hundred percent of the money that's donated goes toward recovery resources," said Rickard. "Addiction is tragic but recovery is so much more powerful. I say that from my gut because I see it."
And while there's certainly a physical component to running 155 miles, much of this race is about being prepared mentally and ready to face whatever challenges come up.
For more information about Runwell, visit runwell.com. To access Rickard's fundraising page, visit kintera.org/faf/home, click on "Donate to a Runner" and enter Rickard's name in the search box. More information about Racing The Planet is available at racingtheplanet.com.