Craig More than 8,000 runners converged on Jacksonville, Fla. on Feb. 18. Many of them present were focused on finishing the 26.2 mile marathon run in the Florida heat.
For Tom Williams, a 61-year-old Craig resident, it wasn't about winning the race, or even finishing - which he did - it was more about why he was racing.
Williams made the more than 2,000-mile trek from Craig to raise money for the Donna Hicken Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to funding the needs of underserved women with breast cancer.
The event raised more than $1 million this year, and thanks to the residents of Craig, Williams contributed more than $1,000 himself.
"I had a really good time," Williams said. "I want to thank all those that donated very sincerely."
Williams said the event drew more than 10,000 spectators who watched from the sidelines in Jacksonville Beach.
"The people treated us great," he said. "There was at least 10,000 people lining the route. They were throwing candy, snacks and spraying us with hoses. It was hot."
Williams began his run at 8:30 a.m., and he said by the time it was 10 a.m. it was 75 degrees.
By the time he was coming down the home stretch, it was 90.
"It was hot, but it was really good weather for the event," he said. "The next day it rained, so I'm glad we missed being wet."
Williams finished the race, he said, "somewhere in the middle of the pack," but not without a struggle.
"I had a good pace until about mile 17," he said. "Then I hit a small wall."
Williams said every runner hits the "wall" at some point during a race; it's what you do after that makes or breaks a runner.
"A lady came up to me and said, 'It looks like you have a problem,'" he said. "So she held my hand, and we finished together."
Williams said he's grateful to have been able to make the trip south, to run for a good cause and to have a good time.
It's something he would do again.
"I'd definitely do it again," he said. "But, I wouldn't have been able to compete in the event without the support I received from the people in town. I feel fortunate to have done it."
John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org