After a serious knee injury in December of 2014, doctors and physical therapists predicted that Mary would no longer be able to run. Since they knew that she would not stop running, they urged her to cap her distance at a 5K or at most a 5 mile distance. But Mary had other ideas. All that she set forth through the power of her pen, her divining rod for healing, was in motion and she was going to go the distance on the roads and in my life.
Mary miraculously went on to run the Bermuda Half Marathon in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Excerpted from the Foreword of "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" written by Jacqueline Hansen, Boston Marathon champion and champion of women's equality in running:
"Try to imagine what it must have been like to be diagnosed with paralytic polio as a child. Try to imagine suffering child abuse at the hands of those very family members who are charged with your upbringing. Try to imagine them together. It’s unbearable to think about. Then imagine surviving the unthinkable, and in adulthood being diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome. This is a story that needs to be told. This is a story of challenge, of resiliency, and a story of heart, tremendous heart.
I am fond of using the word “heart.” When coaching young athletes, which I have done my entire adult life, I often tell them to “run with heart.” As I explain to them, I can coach them on skills, on running form, on race strategy, on everything to do with their running, except I cannot create “heart.” This is something that only they can produce from within. I go on to say that “you have to want this (running or racing) more than I do – more than I want it for you.” “Always run with heart.” I am here to tell you that Mary McManus always runs with all her heart.
Just for a moment, let’s ponder the word “heart.” The Latin word for heart is “cor.” Cor is also the root of the word “courage.” I would attribute both heart and courage to Mary. Even Mary herself has said that “It takes incredible courage to heal trauma . . . healing both paralytic polio and trauma.” Author Parker Palmer wrote that “The heart is where we integrate what we know in our mind with what we know in our bones, the place where our knowledge can become more fully human. When all that we understand of self and world comes together in the center place called the heart, we are more likely to find the courage to act humanely on what we know.”
Besides being a former record-holding runner who became a coach, I am also an educator. I teach teachers about health education, so in turn they will teach the youth. One of the most important lessons we impart is how to build resilient young persons. In brief, I can tell you there are no apparent factors in Mary’s childhood that would lead to her developing into a resilient young adult and woman. Yet, nonetheless, she became so. When faced with the prognosis of spending her life in a wheelchair, she did not “settle.” She chose to reclaim her life with fervor."