Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Connie loves to run

She loves to run, and she loves numbers. Three years ago, Connie DeMercurio, by day Special Projects Coordinator for Project Self Sufficiency, signed on as treasurer of the Fort Collins Running Club. Now in her second year as president, her contagious enthusiasm has generated some impressive numbers. The club has grown from 100 to 200 members and its monthly predict races have soared from 10 to 90 participants.

Connie’s devotion to her favorite sport extends beyond the personal satisfaction she derives from running. She devotes more than her share of time to encouraging others to discover its joys.  For three years she has faithfully guided blind runner Dan Berlin through six marathons—in New York, Boston, Washington D. C., and two each in Fort Collins and Denver.  She has been active in Athletes in Tandem, pushing a stroller carrying someone unable to run. The epitome of those experiences came last September when she simultaneously pushed a 90-pound man in a stroller and guided Dan through the Crossroads half marathon in Fort Collins.

Connie and Dan have become a smooth-running team. They talk to each other often as they run, and in crowded situations, as in the New York marathon, are tethered together. Other times Connie runs a little ahead and Dan follows, using his ability to see white lines and contrasts. Connie has learned to wear bright clothing.  Dan’s trust in her, his changed diet, weight loss, and added muscle have resulted in faster times and opened up a whole new world to him.  There was a time when running with Dan meant a sacrifice of time for Connie, but no longer.
Growing up in the Chicago area and Santa Barbara, California, Connie confesses to being a couch potato until age 21 when she discovered swimming.  After insisting to Doug, her runner husband, that she hated it, she took up running anyway at age 30 because it was the most convenient way to work out after delivering her daughter to a pre-school near the Spring Creek trail.

 In 1989 she entered the Colorado Run in Fort Collins on Labor Day during a time when the race awarded women finishers under 48 minutes a special long-sleeved shirt. She earned one. Since then she has clocked the fastest half-marathon in the state in her 55-59 age group with a 1:33 at Georgetown in 2012, and completed a 3:18:36 marathon in Napa Valley, California two years ago at age 54.

“She gets faster as she gets older,” says daughter Marissa, herself a veteran of three marathons. She and Connie did the Chicago marathon together. Her brother, Nate, ran the Marine Corps marathon with his mother, has completed a 50-mile race, two half Ironmans, and is now preparing for his first full Ironman. Despite an ailing knee, Connie guided Dan through the Marine Corps marathon in October 2012 chalking up her 28th time at that distance.
Connie’s love of numbers doesn’t extend to tracking her times in shorter races or her annual mileage. “It’s not important. “I just love to run,” she says. “I love the beauty of it, the companionship, the opportunity to explore new places, and it makes me feel good.”


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