Runner Honors Late Son By Taking Part In ‘Grandma’s Marathon’
I experienced my first Grandma's Marathon weekend just about a week ago and I am still in awe of all the runners and their accomplishment crossing the finish line.
My favorite part about it all was learning a little bit more about some of the runners. Some were making history and others were running for a good cause. Some were taking part in the festivities to honor someone important in their life. Rik Zortman is one of those people.
Zortman decided to take up running as a way of honoring his son, who passed away from cancer in 2009 at the age of 3. He says his son, Armstrong, loved to run.
Honoring his son's memory led him to Grandma's Marathon this year, as he attempts to run a half marathon in every state. I had the chance to talk him and hear more about his story.
Why did you decide to run Grandma's Marathon this year?
"I ran Grandma’s because my ultimate goal is to run a half marathon in each state and I was told that if I ever ran Minnesota to run Grandma’s. I signed up not knowing what to expect and the experience both pre-race and during was awesome! The route and the spectators were simply amazing. I would definitely consider doing it again!"
You also run "names" in honor of your son. How does the process of running a name work?
"What I do is I use GPS while I run and spell out positive words, phrases and most importantly, names. Not just any particular names, but mostly names of children fighting cancer. Since last July, I have ran 433 names. They have either been sent to me via social media or I’ve read about them. I go and run the name and tag the parents and anyone else that has that name. That way, more people can see what I do and if they have someone in their life struggling, they can submit a name and I will go run it. I’ve ran every day this year and currently have ran over 1100 miles."
How did you turn your passion from running marathons into running names?
"September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month so I started the month running my son’s name and I said on social media that I would take requests and run for children and ended up running 100 names (three other runners asked to help and each did one name!)."
How has running / running names / Grandma's Marathon helped you heal?
"Running names for others means the world to me, especially children that have been taken too soon. Their parents can see their child’s name and know that they will never be forgotten. When I run races like Grandma’s, I can tell my story to others and when the race starts, I can just let the music carry me along with all those I have ran for. Running has kept me in shape and I’ve helped others by motivating them to get out and do something."
If you want to submit a name for Zortman to run, you can visit his website here.