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The Distance She'll Go

Here's Katie in a UK advertisement for athletic clothing.

Here's Katie in a UK advertisement for athletic clothing.

By: Stephanie Milot

Name: Katie Gibson
Age: 26
Hometown: Derby, England
Event: 2011 ING New York City Marathon

Although she lives over 3,000 miles away, Katie Gibson, 26, is no stranger to New York City. Katie, a resident of Derby, England will be running her fourth ING New York City Marathon on November 6, 2011.

In 2010, Katie took the first step to fundraising for the 2011 marathon by picking a charity. "When I was looking up charities to run for," says Katie, "I searched charities that had to do with disabilities, each supporting research and the quality of life." She found the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to be the perfect fit.

A charitable past
Katie has a heart for actively helping children and people living with disabilities be provided with the care and quality of life that they deserve. From 2008 to 2010, she worked for the Surgical Services for Derby Hospitals, specifically with the service improvement in surgery. During her time supporting the hospitals, she held charity cake sales, in addition to bath and body product sales. She is currently selling the bath and body products to support the Reeve Foundation.

She also pushed herself to run 33 miles on a treadmill for Get Kids Going, a charity in the UK. The charity's goal is to supply sports wheelchairs for disabled children. "I feel incredibly lucky to have the benefit to be able to run and make a difference to other people," says Katie, "it means a lot to me."

Dedicated runner
Although she successfully ran 33 miles indoors, Katie endures demanding training in preparation for the 26.2 miles of the ING New York City Marathon. Working part-time as a self-employed business management consultant provides her with a flexible schedule to train.

Katie's workout routine consists of running four to five-days-per-week, including running with her puppy, core workouts, and speed training once per week. She is self-motivated to constantly test her running abilities. "The easier the distance gets," says Katie, "the harder I push myself." She also has a personal trainer named Wai Ling Shin who checks her progress every Thursday.

Marathon mishaps
Although she has a passion for running the ING New York City Marathon, Katie's first marathon in 2008 did not go as well as planned due to a chest infection; her finishing time was 4 hours, 59 minutes. The following year, her goal was to finish in approximately four hours, but during mile 14 her knees popped, making the remaining miles a bit strenuous.

"I've never not finished it," says Katie, "but in terms of speed, I've not had a good time yet in New York, so it means a lot to me to train hard and run faster." Her goal for the 2011 marathon is to finish around four and a half hours. "But if I can get under four hours," says Katie, "I'll be ecstatic!"

The amazing city
Out of the seven marathons and numerous half-marathons that Katie has completed, the one in New York City is her favorite. The beautiful architecture and marathon supporters not only attract her to the city, but also make the race enjoyable. "The crowds are absolutely amazing," says Katie. "A lot of different cultures. A lot of different musical bands--everything from teenage rock bands to gospel choirs all the way around. It keeps me going."

Additional support at the 2011 marathon will come from Emily Cowling, Katie's sister. In 2009, Katie's trainer Wai Ling Shin ran with Emily so that Katie could race, and in 2010 Emily was a spectator, as she will be this year. Last year, Emily sent her motivational text messages throughout the marathon reading, ‘Run faster. Run harder.' "She was my personal trainer by mobile phone," jokes Katie.

It's a piece of cake
Katie's support from loved ones extends beyond the days of the marathons to include pre-marathon fundraising. "I'm fortunate to have friends and family who help me out with the fundraising," says Katie. Her mom bakes wedding cakes for charity cake sales held in local hospitals and shopping centers, with a goal of raising $1,500.

From her past fundraising success, Katie not only recommends gaining sponsorship through local charity events, such as cake sales, but also through the power of the Internet. "Social media is a great way to get your friends to support you and donate," she says, "and it goes straight to the charity."

Distance is not a measure of closeness
Being separated by an ocean from the Reeve Foundation's office in Short Hills, NJ and the marathon's location in NY, Katie admits, "It is difficult to see all the emails coming out saying, ‘We're going to meet in Central Park for this training session,' and obviously I can't because I'm three thousand miles away."

Despite the physical distance, Katie stays connected to the Reeve Foundation through the Internet. She reads up-to-date information about the Foundation through emails, weekly newsletters, and the Facebook page.

The benefits of running
Staying updated with the Foundation, as well as having monetary and moral support from family and friends keep Katie motivated to run for Team Reeve. Her dedication to training and fundraising is sure to show at the marathon on Sunday, November 6, 2011. She also plans to run another 26.2 miles through Central Park, on her own, the following day to raise additional money for the Reeve Foundation.

"I really do love to run, and everyone thinks it's amazing that I can run a marathon, but I think it's amazing that people who don't like to run still put themselves through all that just for charity," says Katie. "If I can do it and I love to do it, I might as well do some good with it as well."

If you would like to support Katie Gibson and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, check out Katie's donation page

You can also check out Katie's blog to read more about her marathon preparation. 

Learn more
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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders