Bracht's first marathon a meaningful one

After raising $3,000 for Boston Children's Hospital, Alexa Bracht of Old Saybrook had planned to run last week's New York City Marathon as a charity runner. It would be her first attempt at the distance.

The 34-year-old mother of two and Plum Island microbiologist ran on her treadmill at night after putting her kids to bed and got up "ridiculously early for long runs on the weekend."

It was exhausting.

But growing up in Queens and Long Island, the race held special meaning for her. As a child, she and her large Italian family would set up their own aid station in Brooklyn and hand out orange slices and cups of water to the runners.

Losing power after the hurricane like most of us, she was unaware of the controversy surrounding the race, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Road Runners Club kept insisting must go on.

When Bracht finally saw images of the devastation in Staten Island where the race starts, she began to wonder if running the race was such a good idea.

"The scope of it was so much more than I thought," she said.

Like most of the runners in the race, she had put in the training and did not want to see it go to waste.

But she also said it was hard to a believe a race the size of New York wasn't going to drain resources from people who needed the help the most.

"It would have been hard to have gone to Staten Island and been happy to do the race when people were still suffering," she said.

Bracht took to Facebook and asked friends what they thought.

She had just a day and half to tell her charity she was going to defer her entry until next year.

So late Friday morning with just minutes to go, she deferred. A few hours later Bloomberg finally announced the race was off but not before thousands of runners had made their way to the city.

That's when a coworker suggested on Facebook that she run her own marathon at home. Bracht posted her plan on Facebook and within 48 hours she had a long list of people who said they would run portions of the course or meet her along the way.

So she mapped out a course through Old Lyme and Old Saybrook and set off on Sunday at 7 a.m.

Coworkers, friends and relatives ran with her while others met her with water, Gatorade and of course, orange slices.

"I rarely ran alone. I had people passing me off to someone else. The only time I ran by myself was at the start," she said.

A little more than six hours later she had finished her first marathon. Her family met her with balloons at the finish.

"It was better than the marathon would have been. It was awesome," she told me this week.

And she raised all the money for Boston Children's Hospital.

Because she had deferred her New York entry, she plans to be on the starting line in Staten Island next November.

"Next year it will be awesome because the city will be coming back," she said.

On the schedule

• The annual EBAC Fall Challenge, a 4.75-mile race will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Ocean Beach Park in New London. Applications are available at www.snerro.com.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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