OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Every weekend during the spring, summer and fall, there are plenty of 5K races in towns and cities across the country.

Thousands of runners -- some elite athletes, others simply weekend warriors trying to get in better shape -- cover the 3.2-mile distance as best they can. Step it up a couple of notches, and there are 10Ks and half marathons to enter.

Finally, marathons are considered the pinnacle for most runners. At 26.2 miles, it’s a grinding test of endurance and determination. Come June, however, Skylar Marcoux will barely be out of the starting blocks at that distance.

Marcoux, a senior defender at Limestone in Gaffney, S.C., is participating in the 4K For Cancer -- a trek of more than 4,000 miles that will take runners from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Teams of 30 or so split daily distances up between them, each running 12 one-mile stretches every day.

Each runner is required to raise at least $4,500, funds that benefit the Ullman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

“It’s going to be quite an experience for me, because I’ve been playing field hockey and lacrosse for the last 10 years of my life,” Marcoux said. “Both are running sports, but it’s kind of different running with sprinting rather than long distances. I don’t think I’ve really ran more than two miles at a time in my entire life.”

Doug Parker, the father of Marcoux’s friend, Lauriann, lost his battle with cancer while Marcoux was a sophomore in high school. He was called “Big Doug” for a reason, as he stood 6-foot-4, tipped the scales at 285 pounds and wore size 15 shoes.

Most importantly, he was like a second dad to Marcoux.

“They lived in the same neighborhood and they moved there when I was in second grade,” she said. “He was a stay-at-home dad, so he pretty much drove us around everywhere. He was actually the one who got me into sports. He was my first lacrosse coach. He pretty much got me into what I’m doing now.”

The tentative route from California to Maryland will take Marcoux through Spartanburg and Gaffney, near the Limestone campus. She began the effort by emailing family and friends, sending them links to her personal 4K For Cancer fundraising page.

MARCOUX'S CANCER FUNDRAISING
Amount raised: $2,740
Goal amount: $5,000
Marcoux's 4K For Cancer Fundraising page:
http://4kforcancer.org/profiles/skylar-marcoux/#

At last count, she’s raised $2,470. It’s her goal to reach $5,000.

“It’s a doable goal for myself,” Marcoux said. “I started in January and I started with email. You can donate right from the page. I’ve definitely come across so many generous people, especially in the Limestone community. Limestone athletics has definitely helped me with my fundraising a lot. I’m really thankful.”

Marcoux has documented the experience so far on a blog found on her fundraising page. In one very telling note, she remembered her motivations for her lacrosse career and the 4K For Cancer.

“As I lace up my cleats on the lacrosse field, I think about my family who has supported me through everything,” she wrote. “I think about how lucky I am to have the opportunity to play, and I give my best for those who can’t, for those who love lacrosse, but suffered certain issues that prevented them from being able to play.

“I think about my friend Landon, who lost his life in a car accident during our first semester of college. I think about Big Doug, who had a strong three-year battle against cancer, before he gave his life to it. I think about how extremely lucky I am to have had the opportunity to be in college and play sports.”