Valley locals take bite out of the NYC Marathon |

Valley locals take bite out of the NYC Marathon

Debbie Brill might as well have won the lottery.

It was just eight weeks ago that Brill was sitting at her desk, clicking through e-mails at her insurance agency in Eagle-Vail, when she received a message that was one-in-a-thousand.

Brill, along with 999 others, had been accepted to run in the New York City Marathon this Sunday.

“I nearly fell out of my chair,” said Brill, 44. “The main lottery is in June, and my sister-in-law Linda and I both applied. She got in, I didn’t. But, eight weeks ago, they held a secondary lottery and I got picked.”

Brill is only one from a contingent of Eagle County locals who will be jetting off to New York this weekend to run in the 33rd running of the marathon, a race that snakes through the streets of New York City’s five boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan.

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One of the most popular road races in the U.S, the event includes 30,000 runners, 12,000 volunteers and an estimated two million spectators.

Michele Gonzalez, of Edwards, will also be running in this weekend’s race, her first marathon ever.

“I love New York,” said Gonzalez, who wanted to run in the race last year, but didn’t get in. “I just thought it would be such a cool way to get to know the city.”

Gonzalez has been training for the last 16 weeks, following a marathon training scheme. She has also gotten coaching from her her husband Carlos, and Joel Bekanich, a chiropractor and strength and conditioning specialist at Colorado Chiropractic and Sports Medicine in Vail, who has competed in various marathons and iron-man competitions.

“One of my goals this year was to be in the best shape of my life,” said Gonzalez, “This year, I’m going to be ready for any powder day that comes up.”

Brill, who is an avid runner, said that she was still in good shape to get ready for this weekend’s race after she got her surprise e-mail eight weeks ago.

“I’ve done a lot of local races, a lot of half marathons. I did the Vail HalfMarathon in July,” said Brill, who like Gonzalez will be running her first full marathon this weekend. “Running a marathon is one of those things that has been on the life list. My sister-in-law really got me going at the end of last year, though. She said, “Let’s sign up for the New York marathon.'”

Rob Parish, Battle Mountain High School’s cross country coach will be running in his third marathon this weekend – a nice little vacation following a long, successful season, ending up with two of his runners, Erika Ghent and Molly McGee, going to state last weekend.

“It’s been fairly difficult to train for the marathon, just because of the work of teaching and coaching,” said Parish. “I do run with the kids, but a lot of times that’s running back and forth, encouraging people. Sunday is my day off from the team, so those have been my days to get a lot of big runs in.”

Both Brill and Gonzalez, along with Parish will not be alone in their pursuit of the finish line this weekend, as various family members and friends will be in attendance to cheer them on.

Gonzalez may have the busiest weekend of the three, being that it is her 2-year-old son’s birthday on Saturday, and her 46th birthday Monday, with the race in-between.

Oh, and don’t forget Halloween on Friday.

“Ten family members are flying in,” said Gonzalez. “I just made it a possibility that, if people wanted to come, they could. Everybody jumped on board and helped make it happen. It’s going to be a gas.”

Brill’s family is using the opportunity get together for a family reunion.

“I’ve got family coming in from four states. The biggest event we’re going to have is a pre-race dinner Saturday night,” said Brill. “There will be aunts and uncles and grandparents and my kids.”

Parish will have his parents in attendance, as well as his girlfriend who will also be running in the race. The couple is going to take a little vacation time to enjoy New York on Monday and Tuesday before coming back home.

“I’m definitely excited,” said Parish. “If I am going to spend all this time training, I might as well do one that’s pretty exciting. This one is in a great location, and there’s a lot of enthusiasm behind it.”

Nate Peterson is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 608 or via

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