Last year at this time, Mike Hutten of East Otto was preparing to celebrate his 65th birthday a little early by participating in the New York City Marathon with his daughter.
The New York City Marathon is one of the largest and most popular marathons in the world. Runners can only gain entry through their lottery, guaranteed entry or their charity program. Last year, when Hutten learned he could get a definite spot as a fundraiser for Everybody Wins!, a mentoring program that promotes success in school and life for children through one-on-one reading experiences, he jumped at the chance.
Hutten trained for months, went to the city and even picked up his bib number. Then came the bad news. The marathon had been cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.
“That was really tough!” Hutten said. “All the miles and hours of training were suddenly put into a whole new light, and even though I was disappointed, there were the daily, even hourly news images broadcast about the devastation that Sandy had wrought. I tried to keep a perspective that my disappointment was miniscule compared to that of people who lost their home or family members.”
While the marathon was cancelled, thousands of athletes who had come were still ready to run. As a sort of bright spot among the unfortunate circumstances, an informally organized “Run Anyway” marathon began to take shape that day.
“This was an amazing experience,” Hutten said. “I went out on Sunday to just run, planning to do one lap around Central Park. People in New York were coming out of their homes to cheer and they brought water, bagels, even fruit to support people who were running! Once I got going, I was so electrified by the thousands of runners around me that I went on to complete a second and a third lap.
“By that point I began to fatigue, and I went to one of the rest rooms. When I was coming out, another runner was going in and we chatted a minute about the cancellation and the wonderful weather that would have been perfect for the marathon. Then she said, ‘You’re doing good. You look great!’ In that instant, all thoughts of quitting before I had finished the final lap vanished.”
Hutten ran the marathon as a way to elicit donations for “Everybody Wins!” His goal was $2,500, and he ended up raising 114 percent of that amount, due to the generosity of his friends and family.
Fast forward a year and Hutten is preparing for the ING NYC Marathon, without seeking charitable contributions though.
“I guess this is about completing something that I set out to do,” Hutten stated. “I ran an unofficial marathon last year by completing the old NYC marathon course: four-plus laps around the perimeter of Central Park, but nonetheless, I want to finish an official marathon to mark my 65th birthday, which was last February.”
Hutten’s training has been intense.
“I usually do a couple 17-mile runs in the course of my marathon training, but this year I have reached 22 miles as part of my preparations,” he explained. “Semi-retirement from work has left me with more time and energy to train and the warm fall weather is an extra bonus. So my every-other-day 5 miles and occasional longer runs are going well, my injuries and strains have been mercifully few, and I am getting psyched up as the marathon approaches. As always, I have no illusions about setting records, but will be completely satisfied with finishing the course.”
Hutten attributes his success on this endeavor to his family.
“Once again my daughter who lives in NYC is generously opening her home to me. Her support and that of my whole family has been 100 percent. That support is the only reason that I have the privilege of running a single step, much less a marathon,” he said.
On Nov. 3, 2013, Hutten will be one of an estimated 48,000 runners traveling through NYC’s five boroughs for a 26.2-mile race. If you’re not one of the expected two million people in the cheering section that day, cheer him on in spirit!