When Julie Weiss lost her father, Maurice, in 2010, just 35 days after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she was devastated. “Research for pancreatic cancer is so underfunded, and it made me feel helpless,” she says. “I knew I had to do something.”
So this marathon queen, as she calls herself, did what she knows how to do best: She went running. Having already completed 25 marathons during the previous two years, Julie now vowed to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks in honor of her father. After asking people to pledge money for each marathon, she set up a website, marathongoddess.com, to collect the pledges and other donations for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PANCAN), a nonprofit organization.
Julie, 43, began her 52-marathon odyssey in Rome in March 2012.
She focused on pacing herself, often clocking in an hour slower than her best time of 3:47, and decided not to adhere to a rigorous training schedule. “I knew my body recovered quickly [from marathon running],” she says, and, anyway, “nothing can prepare you for what you’re about to experience.” When her muscles began to ache, she kept her motivation in mind. “It was like I had angels with me and this amazing energy to keep running no matter what,” she says. To stay focused, she’d think of her father. “He did everything big,” says Julie.
Julie finished her 1,362.4-mile journey spanning two countries and 18 states in March 2013 at the L.A. Marathon, raising more than $200,000 in the process for PANCAN.