Julie Weiss is the Energizer Bunny of marathon runners. For 52 weeks, she kept on going and going and going.
On Sunday, she finally stopped. As she crossed the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon, she reached her goal of running a marathon every week for a year to raise awareness for the disease that killed her father.
"Pancreatic cancer is my only competition out there and I intend to beat it,” she told TODAY.
The 42-year-old California mother of two started her year-long journey after her father passed away in November 2010, only a month after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The experience stunned her.
"People don't know what we're dealing with here,” she said. “It's almost like a death sentence.”
She started her mission with a marathon in Rome and followed with a race every weekend throughout the United States and Canada. She would work her 9-to-5 job during the week and then immediately hop on a plane. She finished each race with a huge smile and arms raised — and then head back home Sunday.
"We have never had anybody do what Julie Weiss has done,” said Pam Marquardt, founder of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
So far, Weiss has raised $177, 378 for the charity, according to her website www.MarathonGoddess.com, a play off the nickname she’s been dubbed by fans.
David Levine, her fiancé, acknowledged it has been a hard journey.
“Psychologically, it was taxing, difficult, tiring,” he said.
Completing 52 marathons in 52 weeks means that Weiss has run 1,362.4 miles. That’s roughly the distance between St. Louis to Boston.
Although Weiss runs each race in memory of her father, she dedicates each marathon to a cancer victim.
“In memory of Lydia Jack, she passed at only 52, so Lydia 52 is also for YOU!” she wrote on her blog.
Weiss now plans to take a break, but she said she plans to pick up her race pace again soon. Her next goal is to run another 52 marathons in 52 weeks by 2020 to reach her ultimate goal of raising $1 million dollars for pancreatic cancer research and awareness.