Oakwood readies for Red October Run

Rick Larese is a man on a mission.

The 52-year-old Howell resident has pledged to run a half-marathon in all 50 states and, coming from a recent run in New Jersey, has 40 down and 10 to go—along with Washington, D.C.

“The next few are going to be very expensive and challenging,” said Larese, who has yet to travel to Alaska or Hawaii on his quest.

Larese is has already ran several marathons in Michigan, including the Detroit Free Press event next month, but is returning to the Red October Run put on by Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. because of the strong connection he has to the system—that, and because it always takes place at the right time of year.

“The fall is the best time to run these things,” he said. “The weather is perfect. Last year, it was pouring rain, but I still had a great time.”
Larese is running in part to honor his friend, who died of a massive heart attack while Larese was driving him to the hospital, and in part to defy the brain tumor that is slowly growing in his head. He was diagnosed in 2004, after he passed out in a restaurant and was unconscious for four minutes.

“I thought my life was over,” said Larese, when his doctor first told him to ‘put his affairs in order.’ “That was the worst feeling. I just sat and cried. I was very scared.”

He got a second opinion, however, and learned that since the tumor was small—about half the size of his thumb—and not growing, it did not pose an immediate threat. Relieved, he returned to the quest he started in 2001. A runner in high school, he completed his first full marathon in 1996 and didn’t run his second until nine years later. Injuries, repeated bouts with dehydration and exhaustion changed his goal from full marathons to half marathons and since then, he has competed in events of all sizes in all different kinds of weather. Larese was part of a 62-person event in Houlton, Maine and he completed a half-marathon in February in Minnesota, when the temperature hovered at about nine degrees. He has dyed his hair green when he ran in the Martian Marathon in Dearborn, too.

When the Red October Run gets under way on Oct. 1 at Oakwood Annapolis Hospital in Wayne, he’ll be among the more than 1,000 runners and walkers expected for the popular community event. A former Dearborn resident, he has a long history with the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center (OHMC). Both of his children were born there and Larese, himself, had hernia surgery there—twice. The owner of Mutual Electric in Brighton, Larese has donated work to prominent projects within the Oakwood system, including the Cyberknife suite and the Interfaith Sanctuary at OHMC—Larese’s firm installed the equipment that allows patients to view chapel services on the monitors in their rooms.

“It’s nice to give back,” said Larese. “I owe Oakwood a lot.”

Cindy Cook, community benefit coordinator for Oakwood Healthcare, said Red October Run attracts runners—and walkers—of all age and skill level.

“It is a great family-friendly event,” said Cook. “We’ve had people that come back every year. It’s a good way to promote health and fitness in the community.”

The Red October Run takes place on Oct. 1, and includes a 10K run, a 5K run, a 5K walk and a one-mile junior run. There are awards in each event, refreshments, as well as drawings for prizes including: $100, $75, $50 certificates from Hanson’s Running Shop; two tickets for the Detroit Lions game against the San Francisco 49ers;an Adidas Digital Candy red chronograph watch and more.

This year, there will be arts and crafts available for children, a children’s ID kits available as well as officials on hand to talk about ‘Stranger Danger.’ There will be fire trucks on site, too.

“We wanted to offer more for the kids who come to the event with their parents and grandparents,” said Sandi Martin, manager of patient relations at Oakwood Annapolis Hospital. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

For more information or to register, visit www.oakwood.org/redoctoberrun.