Vignettes from the 26.2

It’s the only marathon in the country devoted solely to raising money to finishing breast cancer.  It’s called the 26.2 with Donna – The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.
Donna Deegan (right, wrapped in pink against the cold pre-race morning) with Dr. Edith A. Perez, MD, Hematologist/Oncologist Researcher, Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic.  Both ran in today’s marathon.

Athletes from all over the world gathered, including marathoners from Kenya, pictured in the front row of the 10,000 participating, just before the start.

Donna Deegan is a home town girl who is the news anchorperson at First Coast News here in Jacksonville.  Smart, pretty, mom of two teens, she’s had a long career in television news.  Also, she’s fought breast cancer three times – since 1999. 
 She established this marathon three years ago, and today’s third annual race went off under a chilly dawn sky that quickly warmed to perfect running weather of about 58 degrees under blue skies.  The start was at  Mayo Clinic, the place where the  research happens that’ll finish this dreadful disease.  It is reported that 10,000 runners from all over the world converged this morning – many ran half a marathon, many were teams who ran the course in relay, while thousands completed the the entire 26.2.    The 26.2 mile course was closed off for seven hours: if you can do it in seven hours, come on in and run for yourself, your wife, your sister, your mom, your friend.  Think of the survivors,  and of those who did not.  Perhaps next year, more of us will train for it.
The energy, the very mood of the crowd as they jostled in the starting position was palpable, and as a journalist blogger merely covering the event, I felt very much out of it.  If you were a runner, it was your day.  Congratulations to everyone who participated – from the runners to the corps of volunteers who made it all possible. The list would go on if I included everyone of note who participated: suffice it to say there was a contingent from Africa, Olympic medalists and Olympic athletes-in-training, breast cancer survivors young and old. 
First Coast News Vice President of Programming & Community Relations Bonnie Solloway checks on last minute details before the race commenced.
The race started and ended at  Mayo Clinic, and ran through the beaches towns of Jacksonville, Neptune and Atlantic Beach, both on the beach and into the neighborhoods.  Supporters lined every step of the route.  It was truly a wonderful day.  Probably close to one million dollars was raised, with each dollar devoted solely to breast cancer research and treatment.  
For Donna Deegan it was one long victory lap.  She’s a true runner, but today she ran it slowly as all along the route her fans and friends wanted to catch their fleeting moment with her.  
I’ll leave you with some random photos of the day.  I tried to capture the less than typical moments.  Enjoy.
Two dogs, dressed in pink tutus, watched the runners pass by in Neptune Beach.


Every finisher received a medal.


His girlfriend crossed the finish line and became his fiance.  He’s clutching the box with the engagement ring and told us it was truly going to be a surprise for her.  It was all captured live by First Coast News.


These friends flew in from Colorado to run.  The three women on the left are survivors, and the two on the right were caregivers.  All finished the half marathon and were all smiles.


Special water bottles were available for participants.


A volunteer from the Jacksonville Zoo encourages runners with his message.


Think you’re too old to run?
Tell her that.  She’s the one in pink.


Runners left their warm coverings along the rail while they were on the course.



  1. Karen says:

    Awesome event… great photos, and you oughta be a newswoman for your local TV station!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great job Jeannie! I always love the way you capture great moments here at the beach. You're pictures are brilliant! Way to go! Jenny

  3. Owlhaven says:

    love the pix of the pink medals!

  4. Nick Lulli says:

    Awesome blog! I had such a great time out there, this will be one to cover again!

  5. Sink says:

    Tears in my eyes…thanks so much for telling this story. The picture of the five women really hit me.
    Great job with the pictures.

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