Florida woman runs Eau Claire Marathon in memory of her late father

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Many competitive runners travel from out of state to participate in the Eau Claire Marathon, but a Florida woman says she’s running for reasons that have nothing to do with breaking her personal record.

With 12 marathons under her belt, Christina Wood of Orlando, Florida is no stranger to competitive running. Christina wants to run a marathon in each of the 50 states but as she races to the finish line for the first time in the state of Wisconsin, she has a different motivation in mind...her late father.

"When I was in college he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a very, very ugly aggressive disease. About 18, months later, he passed away. It was a really difficult time," said Wood.

Christina's Father, Arthur “Buzz” Luhm spent 21 years in the U.S. Marines. He was born and raised in Eau Claire and his mother Joyce Luhm, 90, still lives in the area. “Eau Claire was always home for him and home for us growing up so this is a very special town.”

She says Eau Claire holds a special place in her heart which is why she decided to honor her father by running in the 10th Annual Eau Claire marathon. "It’s kind of therapeutic for me. I feel a way to soak in, you know where he grew up and where he came from," said Wood.

Christina’s family is also in town to show support. Christina’s mother, Dolores Luhm traveled from North Carolina to see her daughter cross the finish line in her late husband’s home town and on the day that would have been his 64th birthday.

“I know he's so proud of you," Dolores said to Christine after the race. Christina says she promised her father she would honor him and to live a life that would make him proud. She says her dad inspired her to become a runner. “He was just a very passionate outdoorsman and loved being outside.” She says running became her way of connecting with her father after he was gone.

With nearly 5,000 participants, organizers say each and every one of them is running with a purpose. “If you look around here, most everybody has got something it their head and there's some really significant stories," said Pat Toutant, Eau Claire Marathon Co-Director.

Jeanne Forster, Christina’s Aunt participated in the marathon’s 5K walk/run and was there to cheer for Christina. "Buzz is in the back of her mind all of the time and every time she finishes a race, she's thankful to her dad," said Forster

"You'll see a lot of tears at the finish line," said Toutant before the race began and tears were falling as Christina finished the 26.2 mile race.

She says her father’s memory got her through it. "I felt him the whole way through, we talked the whole way through…Happy Birthday to him. I know he's smiling down on me," she said.

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