This is Marion. As you can see from an ad campaign that was run by the Blue Ridge Marathon this fall, he is pretty tough.
On paper Marion Childress fits all the criteria of what makes someone exceptional…war vet, cancer survivor, the fact that he is still running marathons in his 60’s. But once you actually meet this man, you understand instantly why he’s more than just exceptional…he’s genuinely inspiring. First off you’d be hard pressed to find a running event in a 25 mile radius of Roanoke that Marion isn’t a regular participant in, from pub runs, to the C & C Running events to every 10k, half marathon, or marathon on both trail and road…you can count on Marion. The sheer number of events he participates in each week is baffling.
Second, he is the most humble and altruistic person in the running community I have met in a long time. He isn’t in it for the glory or prize money or to look cool, most times when I’ve spoken with him at events he’s running with a cheerful man, who also happens to be hearing impaired, but has recently come out of his shell due to his involvement with Marion in the running community. Or he’s raising money or gathering race entries for those less privileged that can’t afford the fees. He never takes the free entry, or the free pair of shoes for himself, instead he helps out a friend in need.
Finally, he’s just a bad ass. I go to race expos all over the country and for the most part I spend hours convincing young, fit looking “runners” that they should believe in themselves because anyone is capable of doing America’s Toughest Road Marathon. YES there are some hills, but don’t be weenie. Marion…on the other hand. We couldn’t beat him away with stick. He has run EVERY Blue Ridge Marathon since it began in 2010, even after battling cancer, and he STILL has no plans of ever quitting. If everyone was this tenacious my job of recruiting marathon runners would be much easier.
So when I heard that Marion had received the Mizuno “Power of Running to Inspire” campaign from our friends Blaine and Robin at Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke., I wasn’t surprised.
Robin actually explained to me that each local Fleet Feet Sports store across the country asked for nominations from the community of people in our community who inspire others by running and walking. There was set criteria items like, “Has demonstrated a true affinity for the culture of running and is a positive representation of what running can do”, or “has used running to initiate positive change in the community”, etc.
Then Fleet Feet Roanoke got to pick 5 local winners to honor at a ceremony at their store, one of which was Marion Childress. After their local celebration of running, Fleet Feet then was allowed to pick 1 of the 5 local winners to submit to the national competition. From hundreds of nominees across the country, Mizuno’s Power of Running Campaign selected JUST FIVE national winners. One of which was our very own Marion Childress. Fleet Feet surprised Marion with the award at their weekly pub run, and as usual he was humble and excessively gracious. Passing off his accomplishments to others, or shyly stepping away from the limelight that came with the acknowledgment.
Sorry Marion, you can’t hide anymore. We’ve known all along that you were a superstar and now so does the entire country! Thank you for everything you’ve brought to our running community, our race and our daily lives.