Two Verona families will run the 47th annual New York City marathon this weekend in support of different charities.
Candice Nielsen and her German au pair Laura Helbig have been taking pledges to raise funds for children in need around the world. And Huck Hausmann will be running to support autism research.
They will join more than 50,000 people from all over the world in the 26.2-mile race, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Sunday in Staten Island and ends in Central Park.
Nielsen and Helbig have trained together for over nine months, and they look forward to sharing the memorable experience and challenge.
“It’s beyond a race,” Nielsen told the Press. “It’s a part of us.”
The challenge for Hausmann, 51, will be to stay within his limitations. After he hurt his knees three months ago, the experienced Ironman competitor told the Press he can only reach that distance with a combination of running, jogging and walking.
“It will be a long day, but I’m looking forward to it,” Hausmann said.
Au pair care
The 21-year-old au pair and her 42-year-old host mother have experienced “an interesting journey with ups and downs.”
Having finished two Wisconsin Ironman triathlons, 10 half-Ironman triathlons and “too many Olympic and sprint triathlons to note,” Nielsen said she felt it would be a memorable experience to run a marathon with Helbig, whose longest previous race had been a half-marathon in Germany.
Soon after Helbig joined the family in February, they applied for a grant to cover the entry fees and get a guaranteed spot in the highly competitive race. Cultural Care Au Pair, an au pair organization in Cambridge, Mass., began the program this year, selecting five au pair families to run on behalf of the Cultural Care Kids First Foundation.
The foundation provides educational, recreational and cultural programs for children around the world. As of Monday, they have raised about $1,000 out of their $5,000 goal.
Helbig started her training from 5K, caught up over the summer and hit a peak when she and Nielsen finished a Madison half-marathon.
Having to take care of four children limited their training to three or four short runs and a long one each week. They trained individually for the short 3-mile runs and ran together for the endurance runs ranging from 6 to 15 miles.
The most challenging part of the training, they said, was mental endurance. They decided not to train for the full distance, but rather adjust their bodies and minds as close as possible to the race. Nielsen’s goal is finishing in four-and-a-half hours.
“Your mind is gonna want to quit 10 times before your body will quit,” Nelson recalled regularly telling Helbig over the nine months of training.
Nelson shared her experience with Helbig and encouraged her to “know better about herself” by running. Helbig’s persistence and endurance inspired Nelson when she suffered from injuries.
“We probably would have given up early if we’d run alone,” Nelson said.
Helbig said the experience has taught her the value of the buddy system in training.
“I learned from the culture that when people want to achieve something, they just do it together,” Helbig said.
Ironman takes it easy
Hausmann has been an avid runner for more than 30 years and spent many years watching the Ironman Wisconsin come through Verona.
He has finished three Ironman Wisconsin events, three Madison marathons and several half-marathons. But he expects to take it easy in the Big Apple by “walking a bunch of it.”
One day three months ago, Hausmann felt a sudden pain in his knees, which he later discovered was a torn meniscus. Since then, he’s had to cut back his training to two or three miles at a time.
But he’s determined to finish, anyway, as he is raising money for the Organization for Autism Research. He chose that organization to support people like his brother, who is “profoundly challenged” by autism, as Hausmann puts it on his fundraising page at crowdrise.com.
“Who knows what and where Dale would be today had he been correctly diagnosed and treated as a child,” Hausmann wrote on his fundraising page. “Today, thanks to groups like OAR, families challenged by autism have access to some amazing research, education, support and hope.”
Hausmann hopes to use that inspiration to fight through any pain he might experience.
“I’m sure I can get through it, run a mile, jog a mile then walk a mile,” Hausmann said.
Unlike prior races, Hausmann’s challenge isn’t to race as fast as he can but rather to stay within his limitations. He doesn’t want to disappoint the donors who as of Tuesday had donated about $2,250 out of his $4,000 goal.
“It’s not only a race, but raising money for good,” Hausmann said.