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Confessions of a first time marathoner

- May 5th, 2005
For her very first marathon, Jennifer Belfry wanted to cross the finish line with an even greater sense of accomplishment than finishing this May’s 26.2-mile Bayshore. That’s why she and 12 teammates decided to lend their legs and fitness ambitions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program.
And Jennifer is going the extra mile this Wednesday, May 4, helping to organize a fundraising benefit at Union Street Station in TC, where she works as a waitress.
“Mike Moran is going to DJ the benefit as an ‘80s party with people invited to wear costumes,” she says of the Traverse City singer-songwriter. “He’ll be selling his own CDs at $2 each, with $1 going to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.”
Belfry, 26, and her teammates April and Michelle Bolton and Hadryn Holton will be waitstaffing the event, with tips and the sale of purple Livestrong bracelets going towards finding a cure for blood cancers.
This isn’t just Belfry’s first marathon -- it’s also her very first race.. sort of. “I did one three-mile race in cross-country back in high school, but that was it,” she says.
She and her teammates have been running five days a week and gathering as a group each Saturday for long runs of up to 20 miles to prepare for the Bayshore on Memorial Day weekend. The team includes
Anita Bills, Michelle Bolton, April Bolton, Kimberly Chinavare, Hadryn Holton, Lorie Robb, Paul Schneider, Jennifer Scott, Julie Seidel, Alexander Stevens, Kristi Stocki, Tamara Stone-Vanover, mentor Kendra Smith and coach Evie Rhynard.
Many teammates have been touched by the death of a loved-one from leukemia or lymphoma. Belfry, who also owns a cleaning business, says she was motivated to join Team in Training when her former business partner, Michelle Bolton, lost her younger sister Ericka to the illness. Michelle and her sister April will be running the San Diego Marathon in Ericka’s memory.
Belfry has been running since the 10th grade, getting her start with the cross-country team at TC Central Senior High. She comes from a family with a running tradition: her mother still holds state records in the downstate town of Bath. And she ran with a baby jogger when her daughter Olivia was born.
Still, she notes that jumping into a marathon is a new direction for her and many on the team.
“A bunch of us are misfits because we’re doing this race but we’re not really endurance athletes,” she says with a laugh. “But it’s a good way to change your life.”

SIDEBAR:
Movin‘ on: Although the Waterfront Hotel and Reflections Restaurant are being demolished to make way for a new condo time-share facility, the Waterfront Conference Center will carry on under new management.
The popular Traverse City conference center has been acquired by ParkShore Resort, which operates a hotel just down the road. Congrates to Dan Hilliker, former director of sales at the Waterfront Inn, who has been named the new general manager of the Park Shore Resort.
 
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