Rick Muhr is honoring his mom's memory as he inspires others to run for charity through his Marathon Coalition TEAM - hundreds of his students will be running for various charities in the Boston Marathon.
Tomorrow, thousands of runners will inspire a city on their journey from Hopkinton to Boston — but their journey started months ago with inspiration from coaches like Rick Muhr.
“I really only had one skill and that was running,” Muhr, 54, recalled of his decision to start marathon coaching in 1996.
That was the year his mother was diagnosed with leukemia. In the last conversation he had with his mom, he promised her he would do something significant with his life.
“I was committed to honoring my mom’s memory,” said Muhr, then a college-textbook salesman.
Muhr was already an accomplished runner. He ranked 5th in the country in 1983 for the 100K, a 62-mile race.
While running the Ocean State marathon in Rhode Island in 1995, he saw Leukemia and Lymphoma Society signs. He contacted them and became the head coach for Team in Training for 12 years, helping to raise more than $50 million for leukemia research.
Muhr is now co-founder and the head coach of Marathon Coalition TEAM, a group of hundreds of people running the Boston Marathon tomorrow to raise money for 13 charities.
“One of them said to me yesterday as they were picking up their number, ‘You were the only person that believed I could do this.’ That’s the highest compliment as a coach,” he said.
Short of the birth of his children, the North Grafton coach says, training charity runners is the greatest gift in his life. Many of the runners who come to him have only run one mile in their lives. Tomorrow, he’ll be a proud teacher as he sees them at mile 15.
“It’s a gift that I’ve been given to impact so many people,” he said.
Last night, Muhr saw his runners for the last time before the race at a giant pasta party. It’s where he becomes more of a “marathon therapist” than a coach.
“When they face the demons of doubt, they’ve got to go back to why — why they’re doing this and how inspirational they are to the people that have supported them,” he said as his final piece of advice.