Cindy Ward isn’t the fastest. She doesn’t run the farthest. Yet with 100 half marathons to her name, and with relationships strengthened stride-by-stride, she may be among the happiest runners.
“The first one I did was an accomplishment. It was a goal,” said Ward, 42, who lives in Lynnwood. Later, she said, “it became completely about family and friends.”
Ward, who is married and has a 6-year-old daughter, reached her 100-run milestone June 10 at the finish line of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon. Runners start and finish at Seattle Center. Rock ‘n’ Roll running events, also held in other cities, raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Ward was coaxed into running by her aunt, Gretchen Tapp — Ward calls her “Gigi” — who has run 140 half marathons, the Boston Marathon and many other distance events. Ward was three months pregnant with her daughter when she ran her first half marathon in 2011.
“I am guilty of getting her into this,” said Tapp, who lives in Auburn.
In 2012, Ward and her mother, Monica Eddy, of Edmonds, accomplished a dual New Year’s resolution — they ran a half marathon every month.
“It’s a pretty cool bonding thing for a mom and a daughter,” said Eddy, 64, who in six years ran 60 half marathons. Because of “bad knees,” Eddy is now more a walker than a runner. She walks three miles each day.
Tapp, the youngest of 11 siblings, is Eddy’s sister. “It was Gretchen who instigated it all,” said Eddy, whose sister first talked her into a 5K run at Seattle’s Magnuson Park. “I thought there’s no way I could do 3.1 miles. That’s crazy.”
It wasn’t crazy, and the mother-daughter duo ran far beyond their New Year’s vow. Laura Ward is now following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother. The 6-year-old hasn’t run a half marathon, but last year finished seven 5K events.
Fitness is a goal for Ward, who said running has helped her shed and keep off more than 20 pounds. Running is personal, she said.
“It feels really good completing one, just finishing it and getting the medal,” Ward said of a half marathon.
She has run three full marathons, too, including one during the four-race “Dopey Challenge” at Walt Disney World in Florida. A marathon’s 26.2-mile distance “is not my favorite,” Ward said. “I don’t need to do it again.”
Still, she’s hooked on running and is part of a club called Half Fanatics.
“It is something I can do for myself,” Ward said. “I can pick races I want to do and go out training when I want to go.”
Her husband, Rob Ward, isn’t a runner, but is an enthusiastic supporter. A different sport, curling, has been a common interest.
After the Winter Olympics eight years ago, the couple took up the sport at the Granite Curling Club in Seattle’s Bitter Lake area.
As far as half marathon times go, Ward is faster than she used to be.
“I average about a three-hour finish time for my half. I used to finish in about three and a half hours,” she said.
With her mom, she combined walking and running. “I still do that, but my running is a little longer and my walking a little shorter.”
At some events, “you’ll be finishing a run and can see people watching you,” Ward said.
Those fast runners, she said, have already finished, have gone back to a hotel, showered and returned to see the slower finishers.
“At the same time, I’m doing the best I can do,” Ward said.
“If you finish at the back of the pack, you’re still out there,” she said. “You’re 100 percent better than most people — most people just sit on the couch.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; email@example.com.
Information about the Half Fanatics running club is online at: www.halffanatics.com/