Marie Fitzherbert Award for Perseverance

Marie Fitzherbert ran the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women for 27 consecutive years, never missing a race from 1977 to 2003. In 2003, even while undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer, she persevered to cross the finish line one last time. In honor of Marie’s determination and perseverance, this award singles out a runner each year for that same commitment to health, fitness, family, involvement in the community, and most importantly, perseverance through adversity.

If you feel that your personal story qualifies you for the Marie Fitzherbert Award, please email your special story to by Friday, September 10, 2010.

Below please find the story submitted by Marianne Stoy, the 2009 winner of the Marie Fitzherbert Award for Perseverance:

Twelve years ago I started running races. I use to like to run as a kid but had to stop because of shortness of breath due to a heart condition. It wasn’t until after I had open heart surgery that I was able to get back into running again. At that time it seemed the only exercise I was getting was walking to the refrigerator and back to the couch. I decided that running would be a good way to get exercise, meet people and earn the neat running shirt I always wanted.

The Tufts 10K was the first race I registered for. When I realized how far a 10K was I panicked! I still could not even run a mile. Once I was on the course however I did okay. I ran some and I walked some and I just did the best I could.

I enjoyed running the Tufts 10K with thousands of other women in varying levels of fitness. It amused me crossing over the Long Fellow Bridge with the trolley passing by blowing its whistle. It was fun yelling through the underpasses and the scenery was beautiful looking across the Charles River at the Boston skyline. The spectators encouraged me with their cheers along the way and the music boosted my spirits throughout the course. After crossing the Mass. Ave. Bridge I decided my new law would be, I have to run over all bridges, no walking. I love to run over bridges! Running down Commonwealth Ave. was tough. I was happy when I ran the loop around The Boston Public Garden and finally crossed the finish line.

I had such a blast running the Tufts 10K that day I decided to run the following year but I was determined to run the whole course. So I trained a lot and I did it! I ran the whole way and it was even more fun than the year before.

I have run many races since my first Tufts 10K and I have met a countless number of nice people. I now have so many neat t-shirts that I am looking forward to making a quilt out of them. I never dreamed I would run more than a 10K. But, because of a runner I met along the way, John Stapelfeld, he trained with me, cheered for me, and when the running got tough, he encouraged me. Thanks to him I have run several half-marathons and three marathons. I am now looking forward to running the New York Marathon in 2010. It has five bridges.

However, I decided the Tufts 10K is one of my favorite races and I look forward to running it every year. My original goal was to run each year for at least ten years in a row. I am now coming up on my twelfth Tufts 10K and I still love running it just as much as the first time.

Marianne Stoy
Gardner, MA