Many people in the American motorcycle industry know Paul Carruthers as the editor of Cycle News. Turns out he’s a runner too. Paul, who turns 49 in June, finished his first marathon last year, in the process qualifying for the Boston Marathon, possibly the most famous marathon of all. When Paul goes to the starting line in Boston ten days from now, he won’t be alone. Besides the 24,999 other folks entered, he will be running with Emma Foley in mind. Emma is the daughter of former pro motocrosser and current Yamaha exec Kevin Foley. She has Rett Syndrome, a sad, cruel, and rare genetic disease that robs little girls of their motor skills and their ability to control their hands or feet and their ability to speak. Carruthers wants to “Race 4 Rett” to help raise awareness of the disease, and hopefully raise some funds to help doctors find a cure for it. We spoke with Paul this morning to find out more about his running career and his Race 4 Rett.
Racer X: Paul, I think you’re the first person I’ve every spoken to who is going to run the Boston Marathon. That’s a huge deal—congratulations.
Paul Carruthers: Thanks. Sometimes I think about it and it’s like, “Holy crap, I’m going to run the Boston marathon!” Yeah, it’s a big deal, and I’m kind of excited about it.
I think it was two years or a year and half ago. We were at a friend’s house—having some drinks, I should mention—and someone made the statement to me I could never run a marathon. That was all it took. So I said right then, “I’m running the San Diego Marathon,” and they said, “You’re full of crap!” So I went on the computer, looked online, saw that the San Diego Marathon was on May 31, and I’m like, “I’m doing it.” So I trained for it and I ran the thing and wasn’t even thinking of the Boston Marathon at that point, but I ended up qualifying for it, even though it was my first marathon. What are you going to do? If you qualify for the Boston Marathon, you’ve got to do it.
Was the San Diego race a full marathon?
Yes, it was—26.2 miles.
What was the window of qualifying?
For my age it’s three hours and thirty minutes, and I had until 3:31, but I did it in 3:30.05.
Was that even in your mind in the last mile? “If I can get this in 3:30, I’m going to Boston?”
I’m not going to lie: I did think I could get 3:30. I have a Garmin watch, so I could keep track of where I’m at, and I knew I was doing pretty well because I burned some fast miles early on. So I had some time in the bank. But you get to the end of that thing and you don’t have anything left. I could see the clock, and I could see I was going to make it…. If you would have told me five years ago that I was going to run a marathon, I would not have believed it.
Your son is a competitive runner, isn’t he?
Yes. My son Kyle will actually be signing a letter of intent this week to go to the University of San Diego to run cross-country for them. We’re really excited. He’s busted his butt since he was a freshman in high school, and he’s now a senior and he’s going to get the rewards from that, and he will be living the dream.
Do you guys get to train together at all?
Every once in a while we do go out on some runs together, but obviously he has got to go a lot slower than what he’s used to running. But it’s a good break for him, and you can get out there and have a nice chat and stuff. So it’s kind of cool that I’m not too slow for him still.
My wife, Joanie, and my son, Kyle, and I fly out on Saturday before the race, then we’re staying at a hotel in downtown Boston fairly close to the finish line. In the morning they bus all the participants down to the start, which is 26 miles away because it’s just a straight run there. So we hang out there for a little while and then we start, and then at some point Joanie and Kyle will figure out where they want to go to see me well before the finish.
Besides Joanie and Kyle, I’m sure you will have some other people watching. You’re running for a very good cause too.
Yes, I know a lot of folks in the industry know Kevin Foley from Yamaha. His little girl Emma has Rett Syndrome, as you know. I found out more about it when we did a test ride one day on a couple of V-Maxes. We rode down the PCH here and stopped to have lunch. I was just asking him about his family, and I knew she had something but really didn’t know what it was. Once he told me, it kind of hit me hard, just what that family is going through and what that little girl is going through on a daily basis. So when I went home, I went on the website, www.emmafoley.com, because I still did not know entirely what it was. Well, it’s not a good thing. At that point I had already decided to do Boston, so I thought maybe there’s something I can do to help, not only because I know Kevin and I met his family, but I felt if it is something that I did not know about, then there are so many other people out there that have no clue what it Rett Syndrome. It’s a disease so rare that they’re having difficulty raising money, because most people don’t know it exists. So I just thought this was something I could do for them and I could do for anybody that has the disease. I talked to Kevin and he was excited, and he has been a big help.
There’s a website for Emma, www.emmafoley.com, and it tells you all about the disease and what it’s like. They now also have a Paul Carruthers link that basically tells people about the marathon and how to contribute. It has a button on there that says Donate, and you click on that, and through PayPal you can give money. I know it’s a tough time to ask people for money, and if they can’t give money, all I ask is they take time to read that website, because they will get an understanding of what this thing is all about, and maybe at some point in their lives they could donate and help end this disease.
Last question: Are you going to make it?
Yeah, I’m going to make it. I strained by left calf muscle really bad, so I’ve been doing therapy. One time I had to run 13 miles, and I went to the point I even took some Vicodin before I ran. Now I think I’m beyond that point and have been doing therapy and running at the deep end of my pool and still out about on the pavement. No matter what, I will finish.
One last thing. I know it almost sounds selfish, but there have been times when I have been on that couch and the last thing I wanted to do is get up and go running, but then I thought of that little girl, and that has helped me go forward with it as well. So big props to Emma Foley, because while I’m doing something for her, she’s already done a lot for me.
To find out more about Paul Carruthers’ Race 4 Rett at the Boston Marathon, visit www.emmafoley.com.