More than three-thousand runners and walkers will converge on Des Moines this Sunday for the 2004 Des Moines Marathon. Marathon Executive Director Helene Neville started the event three years ago after being diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease and undergoing three brain surgeries. She started running marathons after her recovery and she says starting the Des Moines Marathon was an idea sparked by her personal experience. Neville says life is short and she wanted to help inspire people and prove that “you can do anything.” Neville says her friends thought she was crazy when she decided to start the Des Moines Marathon.Neville says she left a secure job with great pay and great benefits to organize the Marathon. “I think people thought the brain surgeries probably really had an adverse affect,” she jokes. The first Des Moines Marathon had 16-hundred runners. Last year, more than 21-hundred people participated, and this year, more than three-thousand runners from 46 states and seven countries are registered. Neville says she hopes her work with the Marathon will serve as an example to her children. “I didn’t want my kids later to say ‘Oh, mom said this or that,” she says. “I want them to say ‘Mom DID this or that,’ and that’s why I did it.” Neville says everyone who participates in the Des Moines Marathon receives a medal, no matter how long it takes to complete the 26-point-two mile course. Neville says it doesn’t matter what your time is, it just matters that you do it. In 2003, the last person crossed the line after nine hours on the course, and Neville says she and other volunteers were still right there, waiting.
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