The real life marathon
Diana Wake's story started in a hospital bed 10 years ago, when walking 10 steps wasn't a possibility.
Waiting for her fever to break, Diana's father stood up to leave the hospital late that night and said, "I'm not ready to let you go."
Diana didn't really understand what leukemia was and had no idea what to expect after being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
Her condition was so poor that doctors were skeptical that she would make it through the first week of chemotherapy.
Diana's thoughts turned to her three-year-old daughter, Monique, and the events that she wanted to be a part of in her life -- prom pictures, high school graduation and Monique's wedding day.
Even Diana's own goal of finishing a marathon was overshadowed by the brutal physical process of chemotherapy. But determined to overcome her cancer, a 'marathon mentality' kept Diana fighting strong down the long and arduous road to recovery.
A new type of marathon
While Diana's fight continued, thousands of runners and walkers prepared to take on an arduous challenge of their own -- the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on June 21, 1998.
The new marathon in San Diego flaunted an enticing lineup of live rock and roll bands along the course and was capped off by a post-race headliner concert.
Some people in the running industry questioned the success of a marathon built on distracting runners from their 26.2 mile pain and providing a good time. The big marathon guns, Boston and New York, had a participant roster made up of devout running purists. Music on the course seemed unnecessary. Running a marathon wasn't supposed to be fun; it was about testing the limits of human endurance and posting a respectable finishing time.
A new reason to run
The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon was an experience in itself. For thousands, who had signed up to train with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training, the marathon was a means to raise money for an incredible cause, to run or walk for someone who couldn't do so and to simply make a difference.
By race day, nearly 20,000 people were ready to take on the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. The sold-out event was the world's largest first time marathon. And 6,000 Team In Training participants raised a record setting $15 million dollars for lifesaving cancer research.
The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon continued its success and partnership with Team In Training and, in 2000, spawned a marathon with a new spin -- the Country Music Marathon in Nashville.
In 2001, the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach broke the record for the largest inaugural half marathon. It was becoming obvious that people would much rather test their limits of endurance with the promise of fun along the way.
Reaching the finish line
Diana had tested her emotional, physical and mental boundaries and was making a strong recovery after surviving the fight of her life during chemotherapy. In 2000, Diana's brother ran the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in her honor.
Five years after her bone marrow transplant, Diana was considered "cured." Her lifetime goal of completing a marathon became a reality in 2005, when she crossed the finish line of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon with her brother on one side and her husband on the other.
Over the past nine years, Team In Training has raised a total of $109.6 million (net) through the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego, helping advance some significant breakthroughs in leukemia treatment.
And the race continues
As the event's 10th Anniversary approaches, the huge impact that the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon has had in the running industry is indisputable.
Elite Racing now manages six musical running events a year, including the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona and the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in San Jose.
On June 3, 2007, runners and walkers from all over the country will be toeing the start line for different reasons. Kerry Bridges wants to be bikini ready for summer, Phil Scenna is determined to fulfill his marathon goal at age 60 and Alex Ross wants to run by a band stage as "Hungry Like the Wolf" is sung into the microphone.
Diana Wake will be conquering this year's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon because she wants to "enjoy life and live every day to the fullest."
This is the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon mentality.
You can register online today for the 10th annual Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and tell us your reason to run. Active.com readers save $10 with coupon code CARPEDIEM.