By Tammy Watts
NEPHI, Utah — Former Arcanum resident, Dr. Laurie Dutkiewicz, finished her part of the 3,260-mile “MS Run the US,” to stop Multiple Sclerosis, on May 7. She was one of 19 runners chosen from an applicant pool of thousands nationwide. Dutkiewicz ran the fourth leg of the relay, 180 miles, from Cedar City, to Nephi, Utah.
MS Run the US 2022 began in Santa Monica, Calif., and will end in New York City. Dutkiewicz chose a western state, due to the closer proximity to her present home in southern Oregon. The event was the perfect fit for Dutkiewicz, drawing on her love of distance running to support her husband, Rob Gergal, who lives with MS, and others like him. The organization not only uses donations for research, but assists low-income MS patients with equipment and accessibility tools they need to enjoy a better quality of life.
Dutkiewicz experienced a variety of terrain, weather, and lots of wildlife during the 7-day run. “I saw a deer running as fast as it could, so I stopped, and then a fox ran across, chasing the deer,” she stated in a YouTube video documentation of the relay. “We had an array of weather, from snow, to sun, then overcast, and cold.” The many hills, changes in elevation, and extended portions of trail running throughout the course made the leg challenging, but beautiful.
At the end of day six, and after running 172 miles, Dutkiewicz spent the evening watching “Dr. Strange into the Multiverse of Madness,” a welcome respite. She is a Marvel fan, and as a doctor, particularly related to the title character.
The seventh and final day of her run, Dutkiewicz admitted her legs were feeling “tight,” and was eager to get to the finish line. Thanks to her strategy of stacking more miles at the beginning, she had only 8 miles to run on her last day. Her mother and daughter were at the finish line to welcome her, as well as Gergal, who ran alongside her at times.
“I’m grateful; my wife has the biggest heart of anybody I know, and always puts everyone ahead of herself,” Gergal said.
Overall, Dutkiewicz raised $12,687 to stop MS.
Contact Daily Advocate Reporter Tammy Watts at [email protected]