When Samantha Rutty crosses the finish line of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Sunday, she’ll have run her 26 miles in memory of her nephew Jake, who passed away at age 5 from cancer.
Across the Atlantic Ocean in London, just a few hours ahead of her, her older sister, Jake’s mother, Jo-Ann Ellis, will have completed the same feat.
The two sisters both signed up for their marathons knowing they would run to raise money for pediatric cancer research, but they didn’t realize until a few months ago they would be racing on the same day.
“It feels amazing and it makes me feel like the memory of my nephew goes on,” said Rutty, who is originally from Barrow-in-Furness, England, and now lives in North Raleigh with her family.
The sisters both will raise money for the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group, a U.K.-based charity. The group raises money for research and to support children and teens with cancer.
Since Jake passed away in 2008, the Ellis family has raised more than £70,000 (about $116,000) for the group. Rutty said she’s glad to be able to contribute to those efforts in any way she can.
Rutty also will run alongside her friend and fellow North Raleigh resident Nicole Treadwell.
The two trained together for Run Raleigh in October and then decided to pursue the marathon.
Rutty said having a friend by her side has helped prepare her to run a race that’s taken on so much meaning for her.
“It's been a blessing to have Nicole be so supportive,” she said.
For Treadwell, the race is a chance to remember Jake as well as her own family members who have had cancer.
“It’s just nice to know that they’re going to be there with us and give us that final push,” she said.
Rutty and Treadwell will join about 12,500 other runners who had signed up for the marathon or half-marathon. The race, which runs from downtown to Umstead State Park, brings the biggest series of street closures in city history.
Organizers have distributed notices to all homes within a quarter-mile of the course to warn about the closures and posted information on their website to help those traveling near the course, especially Palm Sunday church-goers.
The fundraising link for Ellis and Rutty is uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=JakeEllis&pageUrl=6. More information about the marathon and road closures is available at runrocknroll.competitor.com.