David D. Knapp, Ph.D., teaches communications in Regis University’s College for Professional Studies. He is also president of Marathon Leadership, a company specializing in leadership and organizational development training and consulting. This year he will run 50 marathons with the goal of raising $50,000 for the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. He recently caught up with Regis Magazine.
What do you hope to achieve by running a marathon a week in 2014?
I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s in 2001. Watching her deteriorate as the disease progressed was undoubtedly the most emotionally painful experience of my life. But watching the physical, mental and emotional toll it took on my father as he tried to care for her was a close second. I’m hoping to raise at least $50,000 during the yearlong marathon quest to help find a cure for the disease.
All that running can’t be easy. How are you doing so far? How are you legs holding up?
It's still early in the year but I know I can do it. I ran 40 marathons in 2004 to celebrate turning 40, so I'm confident I can do 50 this year - especially given the fundraising goal to motivate me.
Has there ever been a time in a race when you felt like stopping? What keeps you going?
Interestingly enough, I took a bad spill at mile 24 of the very first race of the year. On top of some serious road rash, I bruised my ribs and sternum, but I finished the race and then ran another the next day. Truthfully, I feel like the challenge of running 50 marathons in one year pales in comparison to what my father went through as my mother’s caregiver.
How do the lessons you are learning as a marathoner apply to your work at Regis?
I actually discuss those lessons a lot, especially in my leadership classes. If I could get my students to do one thing it would be to banish the phrases "I can't" and "that's impossible" from their vocabulary, something I think training for and completing a marathon teaches people.