Two years ago, Kelly Glantz would have rather lounged on her sofa than put on a pair of running shoes and go for a jog.
Overweight and out of shape, she became fed up with herself just months before her 40th birthday and started running.
On Saturday, Glantz, who is now 70 pounds lighter, ran in her first marathon. She joined thousands of others in uptown Charlotte for the eighth annual Thunder Road Marathon, Half Marathon, and Presbyterian Orthopaedic Hospital 5K.
Runners flooded uptown before sunrise and the marathon and half marathon kicked off at 7:45 a.m., in front of the Mint Museum on South Tryon Street. The 5K began at 8:15 a.m.
Several runners donned tank tops, neon sweat bands, tutus and skimpy running shorts, braving Saturday mornings mid-30 degree temperatures at the start of the race.
Numbers of participants were down compared to years past. About 1,200 ran in this years marathon, 2,500 in the half marathon and more than 500 in the 5K, said Jenni Walker, spokeswoman for Thunder Road. The race benefits about 20 local charities, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girls on the Run and St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital.
To stay motivated throughout the race, Glantz said she planned to focus on the kind words of her supporters.
Its a mind game, Glantz said. You know you can do it physically. Its the fight you have internally thats hard.
Dave Kerpen, a resident of Long Island, New York, traveled to Charlotte after super storm Sandy forced New York City to cancel its marathon. He said he wanted to run Thunder Road to raise money for small businesses in New York that are rebuilding after the devastating storm.
Kerpen, who chose to run in the Queen City because his daughters name is Charlotte, said this is his first and last marathon. This is on my bucket list, he said. If I cross that finish line today, Im doing great.
Kerpen said to keep his mind off of the physical pain, he compiled an 80s dance music playlist on his iPhone. He even brought an extra charged battery for his phone, just in case, he said.
For Josh Ohlinger, of Belmont, Thunder Road also marked his first marathon. Ohlinger starting lacing up his running shoes about a year-and-a-half ago. He picked up running as a hobby for its obvious health benefits, he said, but it soon became a tool to help his dad.
His father, Terry Ohlinger, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in 2009, which causes a slow thickening of the lung tissue.
Josh Ohlinger began to use running as way to raise money for pulmonary fibrosis research. To date, he has raised about $7,500 to help fight the disease, which results in about 40,000 deaths a year in the United States the same number of deaths in the U.S. caused by breast cancer annually.
To prepare for Saturdays 26.2 miles, Josh said he clocked an average of 30 to 45 miles each week for 52 weeks. In his blog, he said he has worn out three pairs of sneakers, used 80 pounds of ice for ice baths and consumed about 65 Gu Energy Gel packs.
When hes running, he said he doesnt listen to music, but his mind is continuously going. On one run, I passed a church sign written in Spanish with the word Inglés. For the next three miles, I thought, what does Inglés mean?, Ohlinger laughed. Then that led to Enrique Iglesias, then Anna Kournikova, then to who the current tennis champions are.
To keep motivated during the endurance race, Josh said he planned to focus on his dad and the people supporting him. Ill carry that with me, he said.
Terry Ohlingers advice to his son before the race: Just run, buddy.