The Family That Runs Together, Stays Together
Three generations of Pieroni family complete Thrill in the Hills marathon
The best stories from a trail run don't always happen at the front of the pack. At the XTERRA Thrill in the Hills Trail Run on February 23, four runners crossed the finish line simultaneously - more than three hours after the winners had already finished.
When the four runners crossed the line, there was no debate about who finished ahead of whom. In fact, they finished hand-in-hand.
The four runners represented three generations of the Pieroni family: Dan Pieroni, his daughters Amy Pieroni and Christina Crawford, and his granddaughter Madelyne Pieroni. They ran the 42-kilometer full-marathon course together, and completed it in 6 hours, 30 minutes, 17 seconds.
"It was a great bonding experience," Dan said. "We go slow and steady, and this year, the finish was never in doubt."
The family group included the oldest runner in the field (Dan at 72) and the youngest runner in the field (Madelyne at 14).
(Dan and Madelyne pictured, courtesy Pieroni family)
"It felt great to be able to run the marathon with my family," Madelyne said. "Being able to complete the course together was such a rewarding experience. The support we show for each other is what keeps me going, and I'm thankful to have such a loving family."
Amy added: "The thrill for us was holding hands and crossing the finish together. Also, if I die, there is a family member nearby to identify me!"
Dan is the true patriarch of the running Pieronis. He is a former racquetball and tennis player who started running at age 57. He has completed at least one ultra marathon every year for the past 15 years.
"I have always been active and believe that staying active flattens out the inevitable physical degradation that we all face," he said. "In 2011, I was the second oldest 100-mile finisher in the USA."
His running accomplishments inspired his children - daughters Amy, Christina, Julie and son Andy - to run with him.
"Christina and I both started in our 40s at Dad's encouragement," Amy said. "Last year was the first time the three of us ran together. I have been somewhat overweight most of my adult life and even running daily, I am not thin. Apparently, being middle aged and overweight is not an acceptable excuse to not attempt a marathon. I really believe that anyone could do it if I can."
(Amy, Dan and Christina pictured, courtesy Pieroni family)
The Thrill in the Hills Trail Run offered two course options, a 42K full-marathon and a 21K half-marathon. The Pieronis chose the long course for two primary reasons.
For one, "crazy runs in the family," Amy said with a laugh. Second, the family actually has longer goals. They have actually run ultra marathons together, and are aiming to get a total of 11 family members to run together at a race later this year.
While Dan has been running the longest, Madelyne only started running seriously seven months ago. The Thrill in the Hills race was her first trail marathon (although she completed a road ultra marathon in November).
"I don't think I could have done it without my family," Madelyne said. "They were always there for me along the way, making sure that I had everything that I needed. Combined with our strength and determination, we were able to achieve our goals and expectations because we had each other."
The Pieronis said they hope to make the XTERRA Thrill in the Hills Trail Run an annual family outing, with more members joining in next year.
"The one thing about my family is that we never give up," Madelyne said. "Once we start something, we have to finish it. My grandpa is an exceptional man who lives each day to the fullest. There is no way to discourage him from doing what he loves. I wouldn't be surprised if he's still running ten years from now because he puts his mind to it and never gives up."
The Pieroni family is proof that runners of all ages and skill levels can participate in XTERRA Trail Run events. To learn more about entering races, please visit www.xterratrailrun.com or www.dirtyspokes.com.
About the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series
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