Glen Cove resident Eva Casale resisted the urge to go for a run Sunday, and instead spent the day relaxing at home and at the beach. It was a rare day off from training for the 49-year-old ultramarathoner, but she knew she needed to rest for the challenge that awaits her.
Starting Monday afternoon, Casale will be running seven marathons in seven consecutive days, logging a total of 183.4 miles in one week.
"I can't wait to get started," said Casale, who has been training since May, averaging about 80 miles per week. "I have a lot of nervous energy."
Casale has been running for more than 30 years, and has completed 51 full marathons and 32 ultramarathons, ranging from 31 to 126.2 miles. But she’s never attempted to run seven marathons in the same week.
"This is a new journey for me," she added.
Casale is undertaking the challenge for the sake of finding a cure for blood cancers. She’s a coach, volunteer and participant with Team in Training, a group that raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while partaking in endurance sports events. She joined the team in 2007, shortly after donating a kidney to a stranger in need.
Following the organ donation, Casale said a friend asked her, “Is this God’s purpose for you?’ She replied, “No, I don’t have just one purpose. I’m here to help many people.’” Soon after, a postcard inviting her to join Team in Training arrived in the mail.
Over the years, Casale has raised tens of thousands of dollars for LLS, and she’s hoping her latest feat will encourage people to donate to the cause via her website, goteameva.org. Her goal is to raise $49,000 -- $7,000 for each marathon. As of Monday morning, she had about $14,540, according to goteameva.org.
One way Casale is raising money is by inviting people to run with her. For a suggested donation of $100 or $250 for a team of five, individuals can run part of the marathons with her by registering via her website. (There will be medals and T-shirts for each participant.)
The 26.2-mile courses will be in Hauppauge, Sayville, Farmingdale, Babylon, Long Beach, Massapequa and Glen Cove. She’ll start around 2 p.m. on the weekdays and 8 a.m. for the weekend races, and those wishing to join her for the last seven miles will be given instructions to meet her at the Mile 19 marker.
About 90 people including eight cancer survivors have already signed up to run with her.
"I just have to get through the first 19 miles, because the last seven are going to be so much fun," she said. "They're going to carry me through the finish."
For the July 12 race, there’s also an option to run 13.1 miles, a half marathon, with Casale.
Last year, when Casale ran 100 miles from Oyster Bay to Jones Beach and back -- tackling the Bethpage Ocean-to-Sound Relay course twice in a 24-hour period -- some of the training group's members, including cancer survivors, joined her for part of the way.
Team in Training member Gabrielle Andersen, 24, of Babylon, ran alongside Casale that day, and she’s planning to be by her side for a portion of each of the seven marathons she’ll be running this July.
Anderson was confident Casale would complete every one.
“For anyone else to try to do it would be crazy, but Eva doesn’t run with her legs, she runs with her heart and I really think that’s what propels her through everything,” she said. “She definitely races with reason.”
Anderson said the reason she joined Team in Training was her father, Ed Anderson, 56. He was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in 2003, but is in remission thanks to a drug called Gleevec, one of the cancer treatments that the training team helped fund the research for.
“If it wasn’t for people like Eva, then, things like this wouldn’t happen,” she said. “I’m confident we’ll see a cure in our lifetime.”
Anderson called Casale her inspiration, but Casale insists, “I’m just the woman with the running shoes who is trying to help the best way I can.”