An Inspiring Mission: Dana Casanave’s 52 Marathons in 52 Weeks

Dana Casanave and myself, just after the pre-race dinner at Idaho's Mesa Falls Marathon & Half Marathon in late August 2010.

In the course of running races, whether it’s in your own city or somewhere far across the country, one of my favorite experiences is meeting random people I’d never meet otherwise and getting a chance to hear even just a little bit of their stories. Well, last week I had a chance to meet someone who left an impression I’ll remember, I’m sure, for the rest of my life.

You might remember last week, when I traveled to Idaho last weekend for the annual end-of-August Mesa Falls Marathon & Half Marathon, that I mentioned that I had a chance there to meet and talk with Dana Casanave, a runner and marathon enthusiast from Leesburg, Va., who’s running 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise money for children orphaned by AIDS in South Africa.

This 29-year-old mother of three — whose children are 5, 7 and 9 years old — is doing something that most of us would believe is way, way beyond our own ability. She’s literally running 26.2 miles every weekend, and traveling usually by car to cities near her hometown, but also often by air. She’s incurring thousands of dollars in travel expenses — and paying for everything along this journey herself — in addition to attempting to raise $26,000 over the course of this year for 25:40 and the children and families they support in South Africa.

What I didn’t know before meeting her and getting to know her is the distance Dana has traveled to get here, in so many ways. What is now a love for running, she says, started out at something that was extremely difficult for her to do, as she had struggled with her weight for much of her life. After the birth of her second child, she found herself at 230 pounds, and decided that she had to do something to bring her weight under control. From running first on a treadmill to running later in races, her love for the sport has grown ever since.

Learn more about Dana and 25:40 in this YouTube clip:

I thought about writing an extensive article about Dana and her journey, but what I thought might be a better idea would be to let her speak in her own voice, and give you guys a chance to hear about what she’s doing in her own words.

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