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Steve Wagner / Forum Communications Co., Published June 24 2012

Wagner: Running for a cause brings added purpose to training

There are numerous traits I admire about runners.

In my experience, most runners have a constant drive to improve. Many of them also have a sense of exploration and curiosity, which leads them to try new things, go new places and experiment. And they also tend to have a commitment to cause.

Runners, particularly those who toe the line for distances from the 5K to the ultramarathon, need to be committed, logging miles to push themselves faster and further. This tendency to push ourselves is natural, and improvement – race times or longer distances – serves as positive reinforcement for the hard work and sweat.

Sometimes we don’t see the progress, at least on a daily basis, that we hope to find in the results. It doesn’t mean we’ve failed to make progress or did anything wrong.

As I look to push myself and continue defining myself as a runner, my sights continue to be set on running faster, finding new paths and experimenting. Those are the joys of running for me.

But for marathon No. 15, this fall’s Twin Cities Marathon, I’ve added a new challenge and purpose: raising money for the MinnDakotas chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Last year, the American Diabetes Association reported 25.8 million children and adults in the United States – or 8.3 percent of the population – have diabetes, which can produce complications like heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, high blood pressure and other health problems.

A few months ago, when I began researching fall marathons and the charitable organizations tied to each race. As part of my selection, I wanted to find one with a personal connection. My mother suffered from kidney problems and diabetes, so those were at the top of the list.

And that led me to JDRF’s MinnDakotas chapter, a participating charity in the Twin Cities Marathon. The ADA says there are two similar factors for those with diabetes: the person inherits a predisposition to the disease and then something in their environment triggers it. Those triggers can be cold weather, a virus, early diet, lifestyle choices or genetics.

As part of the effort, I’ve started a fundraising page online www.crowdrise.com in hopes of generating fundraising dollars to research a cure for the disease.

Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@bemidjipioneer.com.