Brad Kloha of Mount Pleasant, MI, doesn’t consider himself a runner. He used to do track and field back in high school, sure, but by his own admission, it was means to an end. He played volleyball and running kept up the cardio and was just a way of keeping on top of things. He suggests that running in OCR’s is merely a means of getting to the next obstacle. But last year, his means to an end became a little more important.

“In the five hour drive back from the Midwest Super Spartan in October 2012, I had a lot of time to think. It was my 12th of what would be 13 obstacle races that year, and I loved every minute of it. One of the great things about the races, is not only do they present a fun and unique challenge from everyday life, but also that most are connected to charity organizations.”

Kloha had his own charity in mind. “While all of the charities supported by these races are extremely worthy causes, I wanted to find a way to turn my love of obstacle racing into a way to also raise money for a cause near and dear to me and my family, the Alzheimer’s Association. However, with so many races already in the market, I didn’t want to create my own race, instead, I wanted to create a campaign where I could utilize the existing races out there and raise money by hopefully peaking the interest of individuals to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Out of this idea came “Run to Remember”.

He explains, “The first thought was to complete 52 races in 52 weeks, but somehow in my mind that seemed to not be enough. I wanted to push the envelope further, which is why I decided upon 100 races in 52 weeks. The same thought process came for the goal of raising $1 million for the Alzheimer’s Association…I could have gone smaller, but I wanted to attempt to have the greatest impact I could. As I pulled into my parking lot back home in Mount Pleasant, MI, the idea was firmly set in my mind – 100 races. 52 weeks. 1 goal. $1 million to support the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Alzheimers is a condition that Kloha is well-aquainted, “Alzheimer’s disease claimed the lives of both my great-grandmother, Lydia Kloha, when I was very young, and more recently, my grandmother, Phyllis Brinkman on June 18, 2011. Because I was very young at the time of my great-grandmother’s battle with the disease, I wasn’t fully aware of the devastation the disease causes, not only for the individual, but for the family. However, when my grandmother was diagnosed in 1998, I was 14, and now had an understanding of what was ahead as she, my mom, and my aunt sat down with all of the grandkids and explained the prognosis.”

The effect on Kloha was extreme, “For the next 13 years, my family and I watched as my grandmother slowly lost her memories. It started out very minor and was hardly noticeable, but eventually progressed into more difficult stages. Her short-term memory began to fade and she could only recall individuals who had been in her life up to a certain point.”

The loss of her husband, Kloha’s grandfather only furthered the seriousness of her condition.  ”After my grandfather passed away in 2004, her mental faculties took a much more significant decline. On Thanksgiving Day that same year, while we were at church, she had left a pot on the stove, and when we had returned from church the pot had caught on fire, burning her house down to a complete loss. This was the point in which my family realized she could no longer live on her own.”

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s.  Something that is hard to take for those watching loved ones struggle.  ”During my grandma’s 13 year battle, I felt completely helpless. There was nothing I could for her, or for my family, to take away any of the pain or suffering. While I felt helpless then, I now feel like “Run to Remember” is my way of finally taking action. Though it can’t bring my family members back, hopefully it can have an impact for families and those afflicted in the future. I take on this task in the hope that a cure can be found.”

Kloha has many memories that will sustain him of his grandmother, “When my family celebrated my grandmother’s final birthday before she passed away, she was to the point where she wasn’t speaking, didn’t know who anyone was, and had lost much of her physical ability as well. As I sat with her and tried to talk to her while my mom made preparations for the others to arrive, she continued to stare off into the distance or look at me blankly. However, at one point, my mom said something that made me laugh, and in that instant, my grandma looked directly at me, eyes clearer than they had been in years, and grabbed my hand. She tried to speak, but wasn’t able. The moment of clarity was fleeting, but I believe at that time, my grandma knew who I was and it’s the memory that drives me forward to complete the 100 races.”

Kloha’s journey began on June 15, 2013 and will end on June 14, 2014.   He will complete 100 races.  ”I wear a sleeve on my forearm with a picture of me and grandma from her last birthday, to remind me of why I’m running. While my body feels great now, I know there may come a point in the next year that I may be tired and hurting, as I get deeper into the 100 races, but I also know that there are those with the disease and their families that are hurting even more – motivation enough for me to keep going.”

Kloha is working hard to raise funds for the research, “To date, I’ve raised just over $11,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association, the majority of which was donated even before I started to run. When I started, I wanted to insure that every dollar an individual donated went right to the Alzheimer’s Association and not to me racing, so that’s how I’ve set it up. Currently, I’m paying for most all expenses myself, with many race organizers for races I’m running throughout the year graciously offering free entries to help bring down my personal costs and enable me to reach my goal.”

[Editor's Note: People can read more about Run to Remember on this website (www.runtoremember.net). They can also follow along on Facebook and Twitter. On the site, they can donate or make pledges, as well as see Kloha's race calendar, watch videos from the races, and read blog entries. There is even a “Memory Wall” where individuals can tell stories of their own experience with Alzheimer’s and honor their loved ones.]

See you at the finish line…  Sign up today!

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Like moths to a flame, the Spartan Race community was drawn to Cliffs Insane Terrain Park in Marseilles, Illinois for two days of intense trails and obstacles that would test all those who were willing to push themselves. With this being the Super Championship for the year, the men’s elite line-up read like a who’s who of Spartan Race with the Spartan Pro Team seeing a lot of the podium all weekend.

On the men’s side the competition was tough.  Spartan Pro Team men Brakken Kraker, Hunter McIntyre and David Magida finished in a 1-2-3 ahead of so many highly skilled athletes.  In fact, the top three finishers in the elite heat Saturday and Sunday on the men’s side were all Spartan Pro Team athletes.

Amelia Boone kept her winning streak alive by winning both Saturday and Sunday, despite getting lost on Saturday for over

Iram Leon with Spartan Race Race Director Mike Morris

ten minutes and clawing her way back to the front of the pack. Boone has never failed to podium at a Spartan Race and her Sunday finish saw only five men finish before her, nabbing not only first female but sixth overall.  Behind Boone, Spartan Pro Team females rounded out the female podium Saturday with Hannah Orders in second and Leslie St Louis in third. Orders made many jaws drop at the fact that despite losing a shoe mid-race, she finished just two minutes behind the leader on Saturday. Leslie St Louis fought off brave competition for third in a highly competitive field.

Also racing in the elite heat both days was the quiet and unassuming Iram Leon. A terminal cancer marathon winner, Leon is an inspirational runner. Leon placed high, despite being very new to the concept of obstacle course racing. The marathon champion charged at the course, wearing a shirt with a runner being chased by the Grim Reaper, with the caption, “Make Him work for it”.

Brad Kloha, who is running 100 races in 52 weeksto raise money for Alzheimer’s was on-hand in Illinois. He is running to

honor the memory of his grandmother and great-grandmother who he lost to the disease and hopes to raise $1 Million to aid the charity. Kloha runs every race with a photo of his grandmother strapped to his forearm to remind him of his purpose.

The Unbreakable Joneses, a father son team we recently profiled who often does multiple laps, also took to the highly technical trails, mud and obstacles in Illinois.   Last seen sprinting around the Texas Sprint multiple times, the father and son team known affectionately known as “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” successfully completed the course 3 times; once for speed, once carrying sledgehammers and once tethered together.

AC Auld – a Biggest Loser participant – remarked that finishing is, “an achievement that no one can take away from you.”  He smiled cheerfully and held up his hands bearing two wounds opened up while low crawling under the barbed wire.  Spartans wear their cuts and bruises with pride.

Love was also in the air!  In what is quickly becoming a tradition at Spartan Races all over the country,  Megan Pritchard happily accepted Michael Manning’s request for her hand in marriage amid huge cheers and applause at the finish line.  We wish them the best!

Danny Rodriguez

The longest and hardest journey of the weekend was that of someone who is no stranger to what a Spartan Race can offer. Weighing over 400lbs, Danny Rodriguez, along with some friends and a couple of staff members, hiked and fought his way through an epic nine hours to cross the finish line to a flurry of high-fives, knucklebumps and teary-eyed hugs. Personifying the “sign up, show up, don’t quit” attitude, Danny is now undergoing the very same regime Chris Davis went through with Spartan Race founder Joe Desena in Vermont in a bid to emulate the same weight loss and lifestyle change. Everyone at Spartan Race would like to wish Danny good luck for the next few months.

A big thanks goes out to the Cornfed Spartan team whose volunteering, work and course sweeping for the Midwest race was an immeasurable asset.  Thanks, Cornfed!

Next up, the Sprint championship in the Pacific Northwest. Who will come out on top? You’ll know at the finish line…

Sign up today! 

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