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Greenie Tales
- By Doug Kurtis


Over 30 percent of the participants in the Detroit Free Press / Flagstar Bank Marathon are first timers or "Greenies" because they are assigned green numbers for the race. Their stories will hopefully move others to believe that they can do what seemed impossible.

Patty Scully, 41, Wixom, Completing a marathon has been a huge goal after years of helping friends complete their own first marathons. The Detroit Free Press course is one where she can see her husband John watch her cross the finish line. Running has provided many gifts of love, encouragement and kindness from elite, middle of the pack and Penguins making her a better runner and person. Scully especially wanted to recognize her training partner and mentor Cindy Goodhue who will be crossing, not the finish line, but the starting line together!

Neal D. Bond, 45, Warren, The middle child of nine, grew up in Detroit and is dedicating his first marathon to his brother Marty, who suffered a brain aneurysm last September and is still fighting to recover. Neal's sister Denise will be running her fifth marathon and the two are following Marty's example of fitness, courage and love that has kept him going almost a year later.

Michelle Pouget-Peters, 37, Windsor,  is using it as a way to understand her inner strength. It has been a love/hate relationship especially in regard to her supportive husband who listens to all her ramblings about running. For Michelle it's an opportunity to see the streets of neighboring Detroit from a new perspective and also return home to Canada for a few miles. She credits Windsor's Running Factory with helping her keep to a training schedule and blames runners for any water shortage due to the copious amounts of water they consume. Crossing the finish line will be a personal victory as well as a reminder of her mother's belief that you shouldn't under estimate yourself.

Merissa Ferrara, 25, Grosse Pointe, a PHD student in Communication The marathon has been on her list of goals that she made at age 20.  As a big Detroit sports fan, you'll see her supporting her favorite teams in her outfit on marathon day. Last November she ran a half marathon on a whim and thought why not shoot for the Detroit marathon.  “There is no way to describe the feeling of victory of crossing that line.  I love the running community, seeing familiar faces, courteous waves, knowing glances.  It's a nice feeling to be part of it”, according to Ferrara. She found Hansen's training schedule rigorous but is slowly making it through by doing a lot of mental imagery of running through the finish line and celebrating afterward, plus getting the right attitude. Her boyfriend is also running it.

Sherry Ledbetter 40, Saginaw became interested in running a marathon after watching Oprah Winfrey run one. Ledbetter made a major lifestyle change 19 months ago and lost 116 pounds. She chose Detroit after picking up a flier in an expo booth at the Indy Mini Marathon. Her goal is to be able to smile and move as she crosses the finish line. Her brother Ben will be running his first as well.

Bernard Clifford, 54, Ann Arbor, has been running off and on for 17 years.  Six years ago he was in an accident that left him in a coma for about 18 hours.  For years he has trouble with fatigue and sleeping.  It was while running on the beach at an AA retreat that gave him the idea that running a marathon would be helpful to his recovery.   Finally last year a picked up a book called the "The Non-Runners Marathon Trainer" and it has been his inspired him to make the commitment.  

David Tucker, 53, Westland, began running seriously while serving as a missionary on the island of New Guinea. People from the highlands would come to watch, wondering why this crazy white guy was running when no one was chasing him.  I finally learned a useful phrase in the Dani tribal language, "Ah kumili kumili mendek!" or "It's okay, I'm crazy!" He decided to run a marathon after listening to race director Patricia Ball speak at a Freedom Swings meeting. He listened to her talk about the various legs of the marathon relay. Inspired by her description, he decided to commit to the entire distance.

Matthew Peters, 27, Chicago, enjoys the support of his coworkers who he thinks secretly want to do a marathon. He trains along Lakeshore Drive in Chicago and will be running with his wife who is doing her second marathon. They chose Detroit because she's from the area and they have a wedding to attend the weekend of the Chicago Marathon.

Amanda Yeager, 22, Dearborn, Recently graduated from Albion College, where she played soccer and basketball. After watching her mom complete three marathons she decided on Detroit's marathon as a way to keep her physically active and something they can shoot for together.  It's practicing what she preaches as an aspiring Physical Education teacher. The Yeagers both love to run in Hines Drive and find it inspiring to encounter smiling faces along the route.  

David Churchill 30, Troy, has been running since early childhood when he chased his brother down the block.  Now he's keeping one step ahead by running his first marathon one week before his brother does (actually they are great friends). He's only been seriously running for six months but hopes to run faster than his brother. He credits a coworker, who has done 14 marathons, with the inspiration to complete the distance and help him lose 15 pounds trying.

Jay Haas 33 and neighbor Jim Rocktoff, 41, Farmington Hills have been running for ten years but decided to go after a marathon this year following a great Dexter-Ann Arbor half marathon. Both decided on Detroit/Windsor because of the international crossing. Jay loves finding great runs and races in his travels around the country.

Jim Zittel, 39 . Running has changed his life.  Old friends wouldn't recognize him now that running and good eating habits have helped him lose significant weight.  Jim has been running for three years and has been hooked on running 5k's and 10k's until recently running the Run Thru Hell and Crim 10-Milers. He was inspired by last year's Detroit marathoners while running the 5km and is excited about the new international course. Zittel is confident of doing well based on the one-on-one coaching from Bob Baril at Total Runner and the support of his girlfriend who also runs.

Contact Doug Kurtis at Detroit Free Press, 600 W. Fort St. Detroit, 48226


Doug Kurtis the former Race Director for the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Bank International Marathon is the world record holder for most career sub 2:20 marathons (76) and most marathon victories (39). Doug is a five time Olympic Trial Qualifier 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996. He was voted into the RRCA Hall of Fame in 1998 and Michigan Runner of the Year - 1985 and 1990. Doug coached two 2000 Olympic Trial Marathon Qualifiers.

Personal Bests:
26.2m - 2:13:34, 25km - 1:17:58, 13.1m - 1:04:51, 20km 1:02:37
10m - 48:33, 15km - 46:01, 10km - 29:44, 8km - 23:25



You can e-mail Doug at:


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