The Brenner family, of the Macaulay neighborhood in Huntersville, is gearing up for a big event on Oct. 12. Rhett and Kristi Brenner, both 37, will head to the Windy City for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Married for nine years, the Brenners have two children. That makes it doubly challenging for Rhett and Kristi to train for the 26.2-mile run.
Rhett has been training for marathons for three years. He has found a way to balance training, family and his career as a business development manager for Stanley Works. He manages the hand tool and tool storage business that supplies Lowe's Companies Inc. Kristi is a work-at-home mom. She works for her 5-year-old son, Quinn, and 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Reese.
Rhett ran in his first marathon in 2006 in Charlotte. He went on to run in the Charlotte Race Fest at SouthPark in April and then took on a half-marathon in July. He had his best finish at the Seabrook Island 10K, capturing third place.
Then Rhett ran a full marathon in Charlotte. “It was special because it was the first marathon I dedicated to my father-in-law, Dr. Thomas Larkin Cronan III, who died of pancreatic cancer,” said Rhett. “My mother-in-law, wife and kids were all there at the finish line to support me. It was a special time for me as I was able to reflect on how he had touched my life and helped me become a better person.”
Then he ran in the 2007 Chicago marathon, and he continued his special dedication to his father-in-law. “The city of Chicago hosts one of the best marathons ever and to be a part of it is truly special, “he said.
Kristi saw how gratified Rhett was after running the Chicago marathon last year. She was inspired to be a participant rather than a spectator. “I felt that if I could come back a year later and run this, it would be quite an accomplishment for someone who really doesn't run for exercise,” Kristi shared.
So, 10 months ago, Kristi started running. By December, she had run in the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston. Then she ran in the Seabrook Island 10K in July.
Kristi has been on an 18-week training program. “It's taken me from being able to run one mile to running 20 last week, so I would say that it's working,” Kristi said. She and Rhett will run the Chicago marathon and then, three weeks later; Rhett plans to run in the ING New York Marathon.
When asked what advice he would offer to those who aspire to run a marathon but think they cannot do it. Rhett said, “I would tell them that life is too short; to say you can't or you can do it later is only cheating yourself. I would ask them to take a look at their children, family and friends and use them as inspiration.
“Inspiration doesn't have to come from someone famous or a professional athlete. I run using my father-in-law as my core of inspiration. I think of all the goodness he brought and how he struggled through years of fighting pancreatic cancer. He inspires me to reach my goals. When I'm hurting and feel that I can't go on, I think about those who would give anything just to have the opportunity to run. Anything is possible if you believe in yourself.”
Rhett hopes to beat his Chicago marathon time from last year of four hours, 18 minutes. “My goal this year is to finish between 3:45 and four hours,” he said.
Good luck Brenners.