Team in Training – Central California is hosting a preview party for its upcoming spring season on Thursday, September 7.
Since its establishment in 1988, more than 600,000 Team in Training athletes have collectively raised more than $1 billion for the nonprofit Leukemia & Lymphoma Society while training for endurance events. And while the organization’s primary purpose is fundraising, TNT has been instrumental in helping many local runners train for their first endurance event.
Even if you haven’t trained with TNT, you’ve definitely seen members if you’ve run any sort of major distance event in the past decade or two. They’re the ones in the purple singlets, who always look like they’re having a great time.
Brandon Uttich, who serves as volunteer chair for Team in Training – Central California, has been an active member of the Team since 2013. The memory of seeing “thousands of people in purple, cheering each other on, having a good time” at the Marine Corps Marathon in 2001 stuck with him, even after he told himself he’d never run another marathon.
But at the end of 2012, while considering New Year’s resolutions, joining a group like Team in Training seemed like a perfect fit: “I wanted to get back in shape, become more socially engaged, volunteer. I wasn’t sure how to incorporate this but then I remembered my Marine Corps Marathon experience and I looked it up and found Team in Training.”
During that first season with Team in Training, he trained for San Diego’s Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon. It was “a different experience” from that first marathon years earlier, which he’d trained for on his own. “You truly are a team,” he says. “You’re out there on a Tuesday morning, and when you’re done with your run you wait until everybody else is done and you all finish together.”
He’s since trained with other running groups to reach some of his personal goals as a runner, he says, but remains committed to Team in Training. He’s been involved as a participant, mentor, captain, coach, and now volunteer chair. He’s reaped the health benefits of being physically active — losing weight and ditching the knee and ankle braces he once ran in — and moved beyond the marathon to complete the Shadow of the Giants 50K and an Ironman triathlon.
Through Team in Training, he’s also been able to participate in high profile races that might otherwise be difficult to get into, like the New York and Walt Disney World marathons.
“With Team in Training, you have options of going to really cool places,” he says. In spring 2018, he adds, local groups will be training for the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, the Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon in Hawaii, and hiking events on the Pacific Crest Trail and in Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks (because TNT has grown to include endurance events beyond running).
Some potential runners may be intimidated by TNT’s fundraising requirement, but Uttich says the organization “helps you through it” with fundraising resources and support from coaches and mentors, adding, “the longer you do it, the easier it gets.”
Where does the money go? While a small fraction is used to pay athletes’ registration and travel expenses, the majority of funds raised enable the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to continue to support patients with blood cancers by funding research and treatment. It also supports patients and their families by helping out with expenses not covered by insurance. “Healthcare picks up a lot of things within the hospital,” he says, “but if you’re in Fresno and you’re traveling [for treatment], LLS helps with people being able to afford travel or even staying there.”
Interested in joining Team in Training for the upcoming season? Uttich encourages potential members to attend Thursday’s preview party at FIVE Restaurant: “You’re going to find out what Team in Training is all about, what events we have, how the community benefits, and also how you benefit, and see if it’s right for you.” RSVP here to be added to the guest list. Visit Team in Training – Central California on Facebook for more information.
(All photos provided by Brandon Uttich)