Connect with us

For those who may have forgotten we have posted two other articles on the Runner in Red, but wanted to add this due to the demand and interest.

The following is submitted by Christine Blanchette who is the regular contributor and writer for our Fitness Friday Features on Sportswave.

Enjoy the read!!

The Runner in Red novel, based on a real-life Boston Marathon legend about the first woman to run a marathon in North America, has inspired a RUNNER IN RED race series to raise funds to cure lung cancer. 

We talk to Tom Murphy, author of the mystery novel and founder of a charity to cure lung cancer. 

Tom is also the author, with John J. Kelley winner of the 1957 Boston Marathon, of the Boston Marathon history book, Just Call Me Jock.

Tell us about the Runner in Red and the Boston Marathon legend that inspired your race series?

In 1951, fifteen years before history knew of the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon, a group of Canadian runners insisted they spotted a woman sneak into the race. 

She “wore red,” according to the Canadians. 

They tried to get Jock Semple, race co-director, to pay attention, but Jock did not believe them. This was back in the days when not only were women forbidden to compete, but nobody believed a woman would WANT to run. 

The Canadians took their claim home to Toronto where the story got additional play in the papers, but ultimately their contention was never proven and thus the “runner in red” passed into Boston Marathon lore.

How did you come to write a novel to “search” for this mystery runner “in red?

When I was writing Just Call Me Jock with John J Kelley, Jock talked about the incident. I filed it away with the idea that one day I would write the story as a mystery, love story and family drama. 

My novel Runner in Red came out in April 2018 and I’m contributing proceeds to a cure lung cancer charity I created with family and friends, called the Runner in Red/Barb’s Beer Foundation. 

We’ll offer our first Runner in Red 5K race March 15 on Long Island in NY. 

The hope is we can grow the project to become a national Runner in Red Race series to raise funds to cure lung cancer.

It sounds like you have a strong commitment to the cause. Where does that come from?

My late wife, Barb and I ran about a dozen marathons together, but she was the Boston Marathon runner and got non-smoker’s lung cancer “Out of the Blue” in 2007 and fought it for six years before she sadly passed away in 2013. 

She fought hard to create awareness for the need to cure lung cancer. Many people don’t know it, but lung cancer takes the lives of more women than any other cancer. 

After she passed away, we created a beer – Barb’s Beer – to raise funds for a cure. 

After Runner in Red came out in 2018, I decided to combine the two projects – Runner in Red and Barb’s Beer – to expand the charity campaign. 

All runners who compete in our Runner in Red race March 15 will get a free Barb’s Beer. 

The race and the beer make a nice combination, and make happy runners!

How do you plan to get the race series off the ground?

We’re in the process of enlisting sponsors. There are many companies, as well as individuals, who have interest in the cause. 

Companies have employees who have been “touched” by lung cancer, and the same goes for individuals. 

People are looking for a way to contribute to something that creates a positive outcome – we believe the Runner in Red race series can be that cause for people.

Everything starts small, obviously, but it sounds like you have a big vision?

A marathon starts with one step – so does a charity campaign. We’re moving down the road nicely, though.

We started the Barb’s Beer project in 2014 and so far Barb’s Beer is offered in Washington State, Massachusetts and New York. 

That puts us at the five-mile mark (metaphorically) in a marathon. 

We’ll offer our inaugural Runner in Red 5K race at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, Long Island, New York. 

We’ve lined up a great tavern in Garden City, Prost, to offer a post-race brunch and party with music and a free pint of Barb’s Beer for competitors. 

The Board of the Garden City Turkey Trot, one of the most prestigious races on Long Island, has endorsed us and that – along with support from New York running clubs – should help generate a strong turnout of runners. 

Our goal is to have a good first race – make it fun for everyone – then leverage that momentum to enlist more sponsors to grow and become a true race series.

Where will your second Runner in Red race be?

We’ve got many options. We’ve worked with Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, the famous gym where Muhammed Ali trained, so we may partner with Gleason’s to offer a race in Brooklyn.

Also, Atlas Distributing in Worcester, MA, partners with us on Barb’s Beer in MA – that could offer an option for a race in Worcester.

Again, ONE step at a time. But the ultimate goal is to get across the finish line and help find a cure for lung cancer.

How can people learn more?

Go to to see more about the novel, the race, the cause – and Barb’s Beer.

Follow Christine on Youtube or Twitter and enjoy the read!!!

History of Boston Marathon

More in Fitness Friday