Marathoner doesn't tire of message
Heading into Garden Spot Village Marathon, runner continuing mission to raise awareness of conservation, sustainability. By Carole Deck, Correspondent
Running a 26.2-mile marathon is a physical challenge for the best of athletes. But Rima Chai raises the difficulty bar by dragging a 22-pound car tire behind her as she runs.
"Tyre Girl," as Chai is known -- "tyre" is the British spelling -- will compete in the fifth annual Garden Spot Village Marathon this coming Saturday.
The British runner, who lives in Egham, England, just outside London, also is scheduled to be the guest speaker at the Marathon Pasta Dinner on Friday.
A former chemical engineer who now works worldwide as an information technology consultant, Chai began running with tires while training for a trans-Atlantic expedition.
To keep motivated, she signed up for her first marathon in Singapore in 2006. She found running with a tire was not only good training, but also attracted attention.
"I decided to drag a tire in marathons to begin my campaign to make people more aware of the importance of conservation and sustainability," Chai said.
In 2007 she pulled the tire in the New York Marathon, followed by Singapore Marathon again in 2008 and the London Marathon in 2009.
After completing a 2009 ultra marathon in the United Kingdom, the energetic, enthusiastic Chai decided to challenge herself to complete 100 marathon or ultra marathon events by 2020 with her trusty tire. To date she has completed 30.
The 40-something woman admits the tire adds stress to her body, and she has experienced numerous injuries. But it doesn't deter her from reaching the 100-marathon goal and inspiring people to change their excessive consumption and waste.
She's used numerous tires over the years -- and names each of them. For the Garden Spot Marathon, "Ecuder" will accompany her, attached with a body harness.
If a marathon has no specific charity it benefits, Chai raises funds for Earthwatch, an international environmental charity committed to conserving the diversity and integrity of life on Earth to meet the needs of current and future generations.
"This marathon raises funds for the GSV Benevolent Fund, so I want to help raise awareness that the fund helps people who run out of resources to pay for their care," Chai said.
The New Holland marathon is the only one in Lancaster County. It's a Boston Marathon qualifier and USATF Certified which draws nationwide runners plus ones from other countries such as Brazil, Canada, Germany, Costa Rica, Japan, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.
In 2009, the first marathon had 386 runners from nine states. This year there are already 1,202 runners from 27 states and two countries registered for the marathon, half-marathon and four-person relay.
"We are excited to have Rima participate in our marathon and look forward to her inspirational message at the pasta dinner," said Scott Miller, marathon director and chief marketing officer at Garden Spot Village.
He said registration for the relay is closed, but will be accepted for the marathon and half-marathon even on the event date.
A new green theme is featured at the marathon with the use of the HydraPouch, a reusable water pouch that reduces the use of disposable cups. Runners can fill the pouch on the go with one hand using special high-speed valves.
Participants and spectators also may donate food for the Power Packs Project for families in need.
Food items needed include dry cereal, graham crackers, canned chicken, sunflower seeds and applesauce.
The marathon starts at 8 a.m. at the Garden Spot Village Legacy Garden and takes participants through Lancaster County through Earl, East Earl, Leacock and Upper Leacock townships and New Holland Borough.
Garden Spot Village is located at 433 S. Kinzer Ave., New Holland.