Race Recap: The Run for Gus 5K with Team Dancing Donna

Race Recap: The Run for Gus 5K with Team Dancing Donna
Team Dancing Donna at the 10th Annual Run for Gus

This past Thursday I had a chance to run a 5K at Diversey Harbor...in a tutu. A purple tutu, to be specific. July 26, 2012, marked the 10th anniversary of the Run for Gus, an event that raises money for Lurie Children's Memorial Pediatric Brain Tumor Program. Ten years ago, when I moved to Chicago, I read about this run and wanted to do it. But for one reason or another I never did. Then in November of 2011, I met a woman named Sheila Quirke. Across the blogosphere she's better known as Mary Tyler Mom.

Sheila is a kind, soft-spoken, yet confident woman. I liken her words on paper to those of a friend you might have known a long time, holding no punches and telling it like it is. Sheila blogs about a variety of topics, including parenting, politics and religion. But one such subject Sheila often writes about is her daughter, Donna, a very special little girl who died in October of 2009. In 2007, at the age of 17 months, Donna was diagnosed with a brain cancer. Donna's oncologist, one person from an amazing team of professionals at Children's who took care of her said, "She may have a brain tumor, but she is not a sick child."

Of the many things Donna loved, one of them of dancing. So on Thursday evening, I found myself alongside a couple dozen other people pulling a tutu from a rainbow-colored pile. Everyone wearing a tutu did so to honor Donna's memory as part of Team Dancing Donna. Each of us helped to raise money for Lurie Children's Pediatric Brain Tumor Program - a program that is in great need of additional funding.

Before I get into the details of the race itself, here are a few facts everyone should know. Some might surprise you.

  • The American Cancer Societydonatesjust one penny for every dollar raised for childhood cancer research.
  • The National Cancer Insititute decreased childhood cancer research funding every year from 2003 to 2008. The current budget is $26.4, or 4% of the budget.
  • In comparison, funding for breast cancer is $584 million and public funding for AIDS is $254 million - both worthy, but children's cancer funding needs your help.
  • To make a donation, no matter how small, you can go to this page. It's too late to run, but not too late to help! Want to wear a tutu? There's always next year!

The race itself started at 7:00pm on the button. I  was busy chatting with other participants of Team Dancing Donna, so I didn't take the time to warm up. I'd never run a race in anything other than running shorts, so the tutu was an adjustment. Every time I tried to put my arms down by my side, they sprung back up - pushed by the many layers of purple tulle.  Other runners and walkers donned yellow, pink, blue, green, red and Donna's favorite color, black.

The weather was hot and mighty humid. About 30 minutes before the start of the race, clouds covered the sky and a strong wind blew in. As luck would have it, the much-appreciated wind died down a few minutes before the race began. Sheila, and many of the other tutu-wearing people were opting to walk or jog slower. Suffice it to say, colored tutus were sprinkled all over the pack of over 1000 walkers and runners.

The race kicked off across from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, went north along the running path, past Belmont Harbor before looping back to where the race began. This was not only the first race I'd worn a tutu for, but also the first race I'd never warmed up for. I started cold, the worst feeling in the world for the first mile. The fact that I took atoughvinyasa flow yoga class just a few hours earlier didn't really help me feel any better. My heart rate immediately jumped up - and that's where it stayed.

Around that time, typically a fairly busy time for runners on the path anyway, I was wondering if I'd see any friends. More importantly, I was wondering if they'd see me running in a purple tutu. Just as the thought entered my mind, I heard "Hi, Traci!" My friend, Brian spied me. I suppose I wasn't that hard to see. The rest of the race was really nice, clearly marked and well-supported. Evening races don't come around too often, but when they do, I highly recommend taking part! Team Dancing Donna will be running strong next year. Keep your eye on the calendar for the Run for Gus and take part.

Traci D Mitchell is a Chicago-based health and fitness expert. She works with dozens of other clients, helping them get into the best shape of their life through personal training, nutrition coaching or through her semi-custom weight loss/fitness program, The 40 Day Shape Up. You can read all about the success of this program, along with plenty of other healthy tips and tricks by joining Traci on Facebook.





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  • Great post, Traci! I love your description from a runners POV. I participate as a Cancer Mom, which is quite a bit different. I did run this in 2010, but not being a runner, I can only think Donna pulled me through. Thank you for running and alerting the Chicago fitness community about this great event. And I can't wait to see what color tutu you pick next year! MTM.

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