The BMO Vancouver Marathon falls on the first Sunday in May. The calendar date, May 6 this year, also nears two personal milestones in the life of Kevin Steinberg. Twenty-nine years ago, he ran his first marathon. And then last year in the spring of 2011, his close friend Sheldon Bainwohl died of cancer. He was 47 and had three young daughters.
The events aren't linked except they are both personally relevant to Steinberg, who hits another anniversary in early May when he turns 49. For him, the Vancouver Marathon is more than a marathon and next weekend marks his 10th long-distance road race in a string of 12 over the course of a single year as he runs, remembers his friend and raises money for the Canadian Cancer Agency.
Steinberg was not only saddened by the departure and long, painful death of his friend, he was also angry.
"As he was getting close to his death, he felt very stubbornly that people carry on the fight against cancer. Basically, if we didn't it was as if his loss was a waste," he said. "Over the years, I've always found [running] to be a very therapeutic exercise. It was a way for me to express my way of doing something."
Steinberg, who has two daughters, ran a marathon each month, starting June 25 in Seattle before travelling to San Francisco, Edmonton, Honolulu and other North American destinations. Each consecutive race was dedicated to another friend or family member who died of cancer, starting with Bainwohl.
Over the year, a team of nearly 20 runners joined Steinberg, including Bainwohl's wife.
"The hardest thing for him," Steinberg said of his friend, "was he was really sad to die because he had this lust for life. He wanted to be able to run a marathon but his body failed on him and he never got the opportunity."
Steinberg has the opportunity, will take it 12 times this year and has so far raised $3,000. "We have to live for today. If you're inspired, give what you can. The money is the one side of it, the other is for more people to become active and healthy."
For more information, visit morethanamarathon.com.