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Running the Relay for Life to Support the American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society Relay for LifeImage via Wikipedia

My posting (and running!) frequency has dropped considerably this week for reasons that are clear if you read my previous post on this blog. Last Friday saw the arrival of a new family member in my life, and I’ve been quite busy juggling baby duty with work, as well as putting in overtime trying to help get my other kids settled into a new home addition that is still very much a work in progress. Life has been hectic to say the least! Now, as if I don’t have enough on my plate, to finish off this crazy week I have a running commitment that will carry me all the way through Friday night and into Saturday morning.

Every year, the students, faculty, and staff at my college (Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH) participate in the Relay for Life to raise money for the American Cancer Society. If you’re not familiar with the Relay for Life, here’s a brief description from the Relay for Life website:

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length.

Each year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States, along with additional communities in 20 other countries, gather to take part in this global phenomenon and raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer. Thanks to Relay participants, the American Cancer Society continues to save lives.

Historically, the Relay for Life has been a walking event only at my college, but a few months ago I came up with the idea to try to incorporate a running event as well. I began recruiting students, faculty and staff, as well as a few community members, to participate by running quarter-mile laps for 30 minute time blocks around our college quad. We have a pretty active student body, many of whom will be running the Boston Marathon in a few weeks, and I now have 30 people total who have agreed to run the relay from 7:00pm tomorrow night until 7:00am on Saturday morning. My hope is that by getting this off the ground this year, the running component might become an annual part of our Relay for Life event.

Having never participated in a Relay for Life before, I’m not really sure what to expect, and having never organized a running event of this magnitude, it has been both a somewhat stressful yet exciting experience. Now that I have a full slate of runners committed to participating, I’m considering elaborating my own involvement by seeing how many laps I can complete with them during the 12hr duration of the event. When I originally decided to organize a team, I did so with the expectation that our new baby would not have arrived yet (he came a bit early than expected – due date was April 23!). As the running team captain, I would not feel right backing out of the event at this point given all of the effort I have put in, as well as the fundraising done by team members, so I figure I might as well make the most of the time that I’ll be on campus by working my butt off. Cancer has taken people that I knew and loved, and my own grandmother was just operated on this week to have a cancerous lesion removed from her hand. I don’t know how many laps I’ll be able to do, or if I’ll even be able to stay awake for most of the night, but I’m going to give it as good an effort as I can. It’s the least I can do for those suffering from cancer.

My hope is to post my progress throughout the night on Twitter (you can follow me at, and I’ll post a recap with my results later this weekend.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. RunningBecause says:

    Have fun out there. I’m also running during Relay for Life tonight – my first time doing this. It’s such a great cause.

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