It began with meetings at a Tupelo church and walking and led to finishing a marathon in Jackson over the course of 40 weeks. For the 18 people of the Tupelo Marathon Makeover Team, it was a journey many never thought they could complete, and now they can’t imagine a different course.
“Finishing the marathon was a great sense of accomplishment for me,” said Tupelo resident Chuck McIntosh. “It was something at 56 that I wanted to see if I could accomplish. I set out to do it in January and it was very fulfilling. I had seen how much my dad benefited from running after he turned 40 and I wanted to get off the couch and do the same thing. Our coaches Bryan (Miller) and Nathan (Hall) had us ready and prepared.”
Marathon Makeover is a 40-week, marathon-training, wellness program and, under the leadership of Mark and Robin Simpson, is starting its eighth year of helping ordinary people do the extraordinary by training and finishing a marathon or half marathon. The program has chapters all across Mississippi and people can find out more about it at the website – marathonmakeover.com.
Miller and Hall directed the first year of the course in Tupelo that started on Jan. 15 with 72 participants and ended with 18 full marathon finishers and 13 half-marathon finishers.
All the finishers were special and some earned some special times, too. Janet Starbuck was the Female Masters third place winner, Angie Moore finished second in her age division 35-39 and Laura Russell was third place in her age division of 50-54. Judy Woods won her age group of 60-64 in the half marathon.
“Words can’t describe how much pride you felt to see these people who decided to make a change finish,” Miller said. “The people in Marathon Makeover Team Tupelo worked so hard. To be a part of people starting to believe they could do this has been priceless. It was a great thing to be a part of and we can’t wait until next year.”
Next year’s sign up starts now. The cost will be $275 during the month of Novermber, then goes to $299 in December. Enter the code word “Tupelo” when signing up on the marathonmakeover.com website to get the discount.
Jon David Naugher, 58, of Pontotoc and others who completed last year’s program will be back to pass forward some of the things they learned the first go around.
The first 10 weeks participants start by walking and build up to running. They ran a 5K, 10K, half-marathon and then a full marathon.
“Sticking with the program you could really start to feel a difference,” Naugher said. “Nathan and Bryan put a lot of time in with us and had us ready.”
Miller is excited about year two of Marathon Makeover starting in January.
“Anyone can do it,” Miller said. “Just stick with the program and keep working and you can be a Marathoner. It will change your life along the way.”
■ Full Marathon finishers: Janet Starbuck, Angie Moore, Laura Russell, Lee Jones, Amber Mchenry, Stacy Fowler, Elizabeth Kelly, Chanda Miller, Karla Parham, Johnny Pettit, Ginger Pettit, Susan Sheffield, Stacy Wall, Vickie Rowland, Chuck McIntosh, Jon David Naugher, Mitch Johnson and Julie Page
■ Half Marathon: Lindsay Whitehead, Allison Hall, Nathan Hall, Lee Ann Houpt, Bryan Miller, Stacy Miller, Kristen Buse, Ray Shoemaker, Jennifer Ashcraft-Johnson, Susan Collins, Russell Chumley, Cindy Hicks, Greg Wall, Judy Woods
TODD VINYARD / Journal Interactive