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Off Running with Running Brooke

Jane Hess Collins
By Jane Hess Collins
Posted on Mar 12,2012
Filed Under Local Sports, News , Community,

Brooke Curran on a morning run along the Old Town Alexandria waterfront.
Brooke Curran on a morning run along the Old Town Alexandria waterfront.

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - Right now Brooke Snyder Curran is in Antarctica, running 26 miles across snow, ice, mud and rock. While this is pretty spectacular all by itself, Brooke runs a marathon every month to raise funds for five local charities.

This latest Antarctic adventure is her 45th marathon.

Brooke with some of the youngest beneficiaries of her marathon running. Photo by Nina Tisara.
Photo by Nina Tisara.
Brooke with some of the youngest beneficiaries
of her marathon running.

To get a peek inside Brooke’s universe, I asked her if I could train with her one morning. She thought it was a great idea, and emailed back with “I’d be happy to run down and meet you at your house.”

Brooke meant this literally-she would run the 1½ miles from her house to mine then we would begin our workout. She offered three options:

1. Running up and down the stairs of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial

2. Jogging at the high school track

3. Deep-water running in the community center pool, supported with a flotation belt
Since I get winded walking to the Dairy Queen, I picked option 3 and met her in the 12 foot waters of the Chinquapin Recreation Center pool at 8 a.m. last week.

Brooke had just completed a marathon in Austin, TX, so it was a light training day for her. Deep water running for 10 minutes roughly equated to one mile, she explained. Eighty minutes and eight miles later we exited the pool, tired but not exhausted, fatigued but not sore. Most surprising of all, I enjoyed it so much Brooke and I water-ran a second time. It’s a painless way to stay fit, and besides, Brooke is a neat person to hang out with.

Brooke had run marathons for years, but as her finish-line time decreased her dissatisfaction with her sport increased. Then one day, driving through a nearby low-income neighborhood, she decided to merge her love of running with her desire to help the neighborhood children and families in need. Suddenly, running became the mechanism by which she could make a difference, not the end in itself. And that re-invigorated her passion for marathons.

In September of 2009 Brooke launched the Runningbrooke Fund and vowed to run at least one marathon a month, to run in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and to run on all seven continents and in the five world marathon majors. She has raised over $200,000 from supporters and sponsors and distributes it to five local, high-impact charities that support needy families and children.

The Antarctica Marathon is sold out through 2014.
The Antarctica Marathon is sold out through 2014.

She pays for all of her running expenses herself.

I’ve gotten to know Brooke from our pool time and I’ve developed several “Brooke’s Lists of Five” to share with you:

List #1: 5 Things to Know about Brooke Curran:

1. She is built like Olympic medalist Dana Torres. Someone said once that by age 40, you have the body you deserve. This 40+ year-old married mother of three has earned every ripple. I accidentally poked her with my penknife and the blade bent (not really-I made that up-but seriously, it could happen).

2. She eats well. After reading the book Fast Food Nation 10 years ago, Brooke is uber-conscious about what she eats, and prepares most of her own meals from scratch. Her indulgence? Ten dark chocolate chips a day.

3. She loves a challenge. While that’s hardly a surprise, Brooke likes to put herself in increasing impossible situations to see how she will climb out. For now it’s a marathon a month. Next up? A 100 mile ultra-marathon. An Ironman triathlon is on the horizon too.

4. She speaks softly and lets her running be the stick. While so many others fight for the spotlight for less-worthy endeavors (reality TV, anyone?), Brooke dials it back, sometimes deliberately, to appear less intimidating.

5. She suffers from exercised-induced asthma. She must treat it daily and has testified before Congress as part of “Asthma Awareness Day Capitol Hill.”

List #2: The 5 Charities that Brooke supports through her Runningbrooke Fund:

1. ACTion Alexandria challenges the Alexandria community to action through its grassroots, social media-based promotion of local needs.

2. Child and Family Network Centers (CFNC) provides free preschool and free social services for at-risk children and their families.

3. Community Lodgings helps transition homelessness families to self-sufficiency through affordable housing and education.

4. Girls on the Run (GOTR) educates and prepares girls ages 8-13 for healthy living through training for a 5k running event and self-esteem-enhancing programs.

5. The Reading Connection creates literacy-rich environments for at-risk children.

Brooke has raised over $200,000 for five Alexandria-based charities that support families and children since September of 2009. Photo by Nina Tisara.
Photo by Nina Tisara
Brooke has raised over $200,000 for five
Alexandria-based charities that support families
and children since September of 2009.

List #3: 5 Reasons to love the Runningbrooke Fund (and 5 reasons to start your own):

1. It keeps you fit. We’re not all marathoners, and certainly not once-a-month marathoners. But, adding just a little bit more exercise or eating just a little bit less (or better) does make a difference.

2. It gives locally. “Charity begins at home” the saying goes. There is need in every community that could use your help. Giving just a little of your resources-your time, talent or treasure-can do tremendous good.

It’s manageable. One person’s span of control, the Air Force told me back in my active duty days, is seven. Supporting more than seven charities will spread you too thin. Supporting five or less charities, especially local ones, is quite do-able.

4. It’s focused. The five charities that Brooke supports help the marginalized and needy children and families in her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. Helping several like-focused causes in your community can create a synergistic, positive outcome.

You can do this. Brooke has several projects lined up to help you start running and raising funds in your community. Want to train for a 5K or marathon and raise funds for community needs? How about a Dream Run marathon experience with Brooke training your and running with you all 26.2 miles? Or, join Brooke in her first RunningBrooke Fund 5K this spring. Just click here.

Brooke will take care of the rest.

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