Long distance runners know the path can be lonely. It`s a time when you reflect on a lot of different things in your life. Unless they choose to share the journey.
“It`s a great bonding experience. These are some of the best friends I’ve made in my entire life… and it`s all because of one reason and it`s because of Jess that we all got together and we decided to do this,” says Rhonda Maier.
This is a race most people would run away from. It`s called Ragnar. It`s a 200-mile, overnight relay from Winona to Minneapolis
Jessica Clem, or Jess as they call her, is the reason they run.
Jennifer Smith, Jessica`s sister-in-law says, “She never met a stranger. She loved life and lived it to the fullest.
Jess, a runner herself, was diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 20`s. She thought she had beaten it. She went eight years cancer free after her first bout. Then it returned, settling in her liver and lungs, and she lived four years with metastatic breast cancer.
How she lived, and died is another reason they run.
Jennifer says, “Somebody said that she`s really forged new rules as to how to end your life with this funeral.”
Rather than a funeral, Jess held her own 'fun'eral - a party with family and friends before she died. It turned into a fundraiser.
Jennifer says, “We raised $75,000-thousand dollars in one night.”
That money was donated to the Bliss Cancer Center, where Jess received treatment until the cancer took her in June.
But Jess` journey continues, with each step, with each mile.
Rhonda says, “To do this I think you have to have a purpose and I think we`ve all found that purpose.”
Her memory lives on.
Jennifer says, “And there`s no doubt in my mind that Jessica will never be forgotten – ever, just by her legacy and the life that she lived.”