No Small Feat: Cheri Devlin Will Run EVERY 2019 MuckFest
Committing to run every MuckFest of 2019 is no small feat. Luckily, Cheri Devlin is no ordinary woman! She is running in honor of her father, Mike, who passed away from progressive multiple sclerosis in 2018, and his memory is a strong motivation. Her father was a runner who did half marathons, and he lived vicariously through Cheri’s own activities and runs when the disease confined him to a wheelchair.
Always a self-described “daddy’s girl,” Cheri was actively involved in her father’s care. After his passing, she looked to the National MS Society for ideas on how to continue her father’s legacy. She says the National MS Society had always been a good resource since Mike’s diagnosis in 2004, and since she had always loved mud runs, MuckFest seemed like a natural fit for her!
2019 is the year “to make a big splash for the National MS Society!”
Cheri has been leveraging her work at Microsoft to help support and spread the word about the Society, and her larger goal is to become more involved with the National MS Society Board in the future.
“I just feel like my purpose is to continue my dad’s legacy by raising awareness of MS and hopefully one day we’ll find a cure! And, I figured one race wouldn’t be enough, so I decided I should just go for it and do all five MuckFest events! Plus, Boston MuckFest is on my husband’s birthday and the Denver MuckFest is my wedding anniversary.
I’m trying to grow my teams in all the different locations with colleagues and people I know in the respective cities. Running with a buddy is just more fun! I even got my husband to sign up for Jersey, and a friend from California who always joined me at the former Nor Cal MuckFest, is traveling to Chicago and Denver to Muck with me! My sister is joining me in Denver as well. I want to get everyone I can in the mud with me for my dad.”
If you want to know more about Cheri and her dad’s story, read on to hear it in her own words…
From the very beginning, I was instantly a daddy’s girl and that never really changed.
He always supported my crazy ambitions and was usually the first to tell me to go for it.
Even the teenage years when we fought like cats and dogs, I always managed to know how to push the right button. But the ironic thing, and maybe this isn’t surprising, is that it finally hit me recently – I WAS him – and he struggled with how to deal with me, without losing me.
But in all seriousness, regardless of the heated discussions that seemed to be a regular occurrence as a teenager and young adult, my love for him runs so deep. All I ever really cared about was making him proud of me and as a result, I fulfilled some of the dreams that we shared.
Then, the year after my husband Mark and I got married, we all started to really notice changes in my dad. I recall the last time we were in a car with him doing the driving. Mark and I had just landed in Phoenix to visit my dad who was living there at the time. I remember Dad flying around the bend of the on-ramp not realizing how close we were to hitting the barrier and both Mark and me holding on for dear life! Needless to say, we drove back to the airport that trip. 😊
In hindsight I’m sure there were other earlier signs of MS that many of us can recall. Even the day he walked me down the aisle I remember holding his arm very tight, partially to slow him down so I could take in every minute, but I remember him being frustrated about being wobbly. Then, months later, I was talking about the wedding and remember him being upset that he couldn’t remember the details.
There was severe denial and anger through those early years of coping with his diagnosis. Many of us thought there was no way he could be sick. He was so healthy – and so young. And there was no way he was going to quickly accept what his future would hold once it was determined he was suffering from a progressive strain of MS.
What started as tripping once in a while gradually transitioned to needing a cane, then a walker…then a wheelchair he could get in and out of on his own, to a wheelchair that reclined…and finally becoming bedridden.
As my sister, Tiffany, and I started to grow our families with little ones of our own, we thought the grandkids would be enough to keep him happy – and they certainly brought him lots of joy. We continued to do everything we could to make him as content as possible…and the kids would always do their best to make their grumpy gramps laugh!
There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t think about him and wish I could hear that laugh again.
As I reflect over the years with my dad, sure, we had our drama – and enough content to fulfill my bucket list of publishing a series of “Life with Mike” stories, but our relationship, including with Tiff and my mom came full circle…. And his final months were filled with joy and laughter.
BOSTON MUCKFEST HIGHLIGHTS:
Boston in the books – Philly here we come!
What a gorgeous day it turned out to be for the first of my 5 MuckFest races this year! I heard last year’s Boston MuckFest was SUPER chilly, and God knows I’m not made for the cold, so it’s fun to believe Dad looking down on us put a good word in for the sun to shine May 18 – and it sure did!
One of my early lessons learned after my first mud run was DON’T FORGET THE DUCT TAPE! WHY?! So you don’t lose your shoes in a mud hole, so of course I came prepared with my festive orange roll, but to my surprise, I didn’t need it! It was certainly muddy out there, but I NEED to get muddier in Philly. I had someone who saw my before and after shots question, that was your post-race…where’s the mud?!
One new lesson we learned – the official MuckFest PL-3650 Super Seal Waterproof Bag – it actually WORKS! I was a little skeptical, so I let my husband try it with his phone and I got the told ya so! So I will be rocking it in Philly…
I do have to confess one thing though – race day was also my husband’s birthday…and this was his first trip to Boston (and first MuckFest), so while we definitely wanted to (and did) enjoy the pre and post-race festivities…we were committed to getting thru the course as quick as possible to have plenty of time to get cleaned up and enjoy the sites of the city. We kicked butt through the course, and perhaps knowing it was our only day to visit Boston since we flew home Sunday morning, we had a little extra motivation to zig zag around the walkers and through the obstacles as fast as we could! But that also meant we opted to pass on the zip line – yes, I know, how could we do that?! It was a hard decision believe it or not, because it’s my FAVORITE obstacle.
My hubby isn’t traveling with me to Philadelphia, but my bestie Jen is making the trip. Talk about a committed friend – she is flying her dad out to Cali from Pennsylvania to help watch the kiddos, while she flies across the country with me to Philly! And it looks like we are in for more good weather…thanks pops for looking out for us!
Now the question is…how long will my gym shoes last? Will they make it to Denver?!
PHILADELPHIA MUCKFEST HIGHLIGHTS:
To kick off MuckFest Philadelphia highlights, I think it’s important to note – my MuckFest race shoes made it home from Philly and are gearing up for Jersey next week; however, my darn sunglasses didn’t! But at least I have a fun story to share about how that worked out…
MuckFest Philadelphia was AWESOME and MUDDY! A whole lot muddier than Boston, which was the perfect way to break in my first-time mucker companion Jen! We had a blast getting muddy throughout the course, which made for a super fun post-race photo shoot. And the locals and people surrounding us during and after the race all brought such great energy and passion for the cause – we felt incredibly welcome and right at home.
Jersey is quickly approaching, and it will be another adventure indeed! I will be out of town on business leading up to the race, so will be traveling from out of town on a redeye Friday night before the race landing in Newark Saturday at 6:30 a.m.ET, heading to the hotel for a quick nap and then off to MuckFest New Jersey around 11 a.m. ET. But another meant to be scenario…my husband learned about a business trip to New Jersey last month that just happened to land on the week following MuckFest Jersey, so while his bum knee may prevent him from running with me, he will be there to cheer me on – and who doesn’t love a date weekend?!
I miss dad a ton, and it’s crazy how mourning hits you at different times and in completely different ways. Writing this update got me a little choked up and for no reason other than I miss him. But then again, that’s why I’m doing this crazy 5-month race circuit and I am so grateful for this opportunity to Muck in his honor!
New Jersey MuckFest here I come!