Another year has come and gone, and we are gearing up for another Pittsburgh Marathon Race Weekend! The FedEx Ground Pittsburgh Marathon Relay was so popular last year, we have two, five-person teams hitting the pavement this Sunday on the 26.2 mile course. It’s not just any race, this year we are running for Team Our Clubhouse, a Pittsburgh-based organization that provides a wide-range of free therapy, workshops, and group activities for patients and their families affected by cancer. This year’s 10 runners come from a variety of backgrounds and running experiences, but they have remained united in their goals to raise $1,000 per team. Thanks to the incredible turnout of support from our staff, friends, and family, we are close to providing over 30 support sessions to our Pittsburgh neighbors touched by cancer.
Want to learn more about the Our Clubhouse experience?
Leg 1: Keith Bartley, Project Designer
Running History: I’ve never been much of a consistent runner, but I do run off and on for fun and fitness. Usually I only run during the warm months because I love running outside; treadmills bore me. I did run track in high school, but I was a sprinter. I’ve never been that great at distance running. However, preparing for this race is making me realize that I can do more than I thought I could. I will definitely keep running to stay in shape after this marathon.
Dream Running Location: If distance, oceans, climate, and my own endurance weren’t an issue, I would run across the country stopping at every national park, and end in Hawaii. Hawaii is my happy place, I feel very at home and comfortable there. I would also love to run around the entire island nation of Iceland. The stunning landscapes would keep me motivated to keep going so I could see what’s next.
Why Our Clubhouse: I think the service that Our Clubhouse provides is very important. When a family experiences cancer, having guidance in the steps of emotional and physical care are invaluable. I’ve seen this first hand in my own family. Working at a firm that specializes in healthcare and designing healing comforting spaces that ease the healing process is a very rewarding side of architecture. To be able to help raise funding for an organization whose soul purpose is to provide care and support for the same people for whom we design these healing spaces is an honor to me.
Leg 2: Zoe Demple, Project Designer
Running History: I ran track in high school (mostly the 200 relay, 400 and triple jump) so I have always considered myself a sprinter/short-distance runner. Besides that I’ve always gone for jogs but the idea of running any more than about 3 miles used to scare me.. A LOT. So, it has been really rewarding training for this relay and pushing myself past my comfort zone in terms of distance.
Dream Running Location: I think ideally, I’d like to run anywhere where at the end of the run I could jump into a lake or ocean; there are few better feelings than that.
Why Our Clubhouse: I think this organization ties nicely into what we do here at IKM. When designing we assume the role of patient or healthcare professional as we work though the design process, but rarely are we looking at the care that happens outside of a healthcare facility. So, I like the idea of supporting an organization that reaches beyond what we typically think of as ‘healthcare’; making the overall care for the patient and their family a better experience.
Leg 3: Greg Coni, Project Designer
Running History: I had the opportunity to participate on the cross country team for my middle school and my high school. There was a bit of a break while I was in college, but I have started back up and last year I ran as part of the IKM relay team.
Dream Running Location: I would love to run in the streets of Amsterdam along the canals.
Why Our Clubhouse: I was quite young when it occurred, but one of my family members had to go through breast cancer treatment.
Leg 4: Alek Kirchmann, Project Designer
Running History: When I was a toddler I was banned from walkers at day care for running and crashing into other babies. Then when I was 3 years old my mom found me glued to the TV watching Michael Johnson sprint in the Olympics. I apparently yelled “Mama! So that’s how you run!” Since those early days I have always loved playing sports and doing track and field. I ran the 100m and 200m in high school and college.
Dream Running Location: I would love to run anywhere where mountains or cliffs meet the sea.
Why Our Clubhouse: Cancer treatment can turn a whole family’s daily life upside down. Having people to connect with and bring support outside of the treatment center is incredibly important, and that’s what Our Clubhouse provides. I’m humbled by the work they do and proud to support their mission.
Leg 5: Nikki Grayburn, Communications Coordinator
Running History: I started running on high school summer vacations when I didn’t have dance class. I made running more of a routine once I went to college and was determined to never gain the Freshman 15. It wasn’t until graduating and interning for P3R that I caught the “bug” from the passion runners put into racing. I’ve done a couple 5Ks, but never anything the scale of the Marathon Relay!
Dream Running Location: Anywhere coastal, alongside a cliff (where a vineyard isn’t out of reach). I don’t plan on ever running a Marathon, but in another life, I’d do it at Big Sur.
Why Our Clubhouse: Too many reasons. My youngest cousin, now in college, is a childhood cancer survivor. I was in 3rd grade at the time, and we joined my Aunt and Uncle’s family on their Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World during her treatment. I struggled to wrap my head around what cancer is let alone how a 3-year-old could go through that kind of suffering – I still do. The impact was felt across our entire family, and I believe in the power of a community like Our Clubhouse to be a continuous source of support before, during, and after those very dark times.
Team 2: Fall Chickens – Click to Donate!
Leg 1: Jason Shymoniak, Project Architect
Running History: I’ve gotten into running recently as more of a means to be more active and stay in shape. Running is one of a few cardio workouts I enjoy, and gives me an opportunity and reason to get outside.
Dream Running Location: I think it would be a joy to run in any major city whether in the US or aboard. Chicago is a city that comes to mind. For me it’s about the experience and surroundings when I’m running and seeing new places is something I enjoy.
Why Our Clubhouse: Cancer is something that has impacted members of my family, and running for an organization that helps to offer support to those battling cancer is a cause worth supporting.
Leg 2: Kelly Cummings, Marketing Specialist
Running History: I started distance running in 2011. It is a love hate relationship.
Dream Running Location: I like running in any new city I visit! I bring my running shoes with me anytime I travel. It is a great way to experience a new city and take some great shots along the way.
Why Our Clubhouse: My Aunt passed away from cancer when I was younger. Although I only have bits and pieces of memories, I can still remember her struggle. No one should ever have to go through that alone.
Leg 3: Mark Brandfass, Project Designer
Running History: Cross Country and track in high school (1/2 mile). I’ve run pretty regularly since then. My 50th high school reunion is in August.
Dream Running Location: Paris Marathon ( I would spend 6 months training in south of France.)
Why Our Clubhouse: I’m a cancer survivor, my wife’s father has a terminal cancer. Just having someone to speak with or hear how you feel is so helpful. Our Clubhouse provides support and help for families facing this frightening time in their lives.
Leg 4: Neil Abrams, Project Designer
Running History: When I grew up as a kid I had always been involved in various physical activities and sports (basketball, soccer, tennis, etc), but never really developed a love for running on its own. That all changed when I was a sophomore in college. During this time I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rather than letting this chronic condition become something physically and mentally debilitating, I started running as a way to keep myself engaged and focused on my own health and wellbeing. I have found running to be a positive way to manage the disease, and I have not looked back since. Participating in the Pittsburgh Marathon marks a significant stepping stone in my journey with RA, and proves that milestones can still be achieved with hard work and determination.
Dream Running Location: I would love to run at sunrise alongside the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California.
Why Our Clubhouse: Our Clubhouse is an incredible organization that seeks to create a positive impact for those who are impacted by cancer – the social programs and emotional care offered by the group should be celebrated and supported. In honor of family member’s battle with cancer, I am very proud to run for an organization whose mission is to be a light in this challenging period of people’s lives.
Leg 5: Jaqueline Kirich, Project Architect
Running History: I played sports in high school, then I started running again after college, and have not really stopped. I added trail running, mountain biking and triathlons to the mix to keep it interesting.
Dream Running Location: I would love to qualify for one of the UTMB races in Europe. Also, anything out west and with mountains.
Why Our Clubhouse: I wish my family had known about Our Clubhouse during the couple of times we had to deal with cancer in our extended family.