Local runners tackle challenges, compete in Madison Marathon

Local runners tackle challenges, compete in Madison Marathon

Thousands of runners laced up their sneakers Sunday morning and hit Madison’s streets for this year’s marathon, now held on Veterans Day weekend.

Running a full or half marathon is no easy feat. It takes determination, dedication and training. For two local runners, it also took overcoming some physical obstacles.

Nearly three years ago, Alisha Gavin set a goal for herself, changing her lifestyle and her mindset.

“Back in February 2015, I joined the Biggest Loser program at the Princeton Club East,” Gavin said. “My starting weight there was almost 400 pounds.”

Now 220 pounds lighter, Gavin ran her third half marathon Sunday, finishing in 2:28:17. Running has become part of her life and she’s considering taking on a full marathon next year.

“I look back at old pictures of myself and just knowing how I lived then, I never want to go back to that,” Gavin said.

Like Alisha, Hannah Wilz didn’t think she’d ever call herself a marathon finisher, let alone a runner.

“Hannah was actually diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was born and they told her mom that she probably wouldn’t walk,” Wilz’s friend Michaela Bemis said. “She’s just been proving them wrong.”

Over the summer Wilz completed a 100 mile bike race, all while training for Sunday’s marathon. She and Bemis planned to run the 26.2 miles together.

“I’m super excited. I’ve been training for a while, but to do it with someone who’s so important to me, like Michaela, I’m so stoked to run this and honestly get it over with,” Wilz said.