Michael Westphal FILE PHOTO

Runner motivated by race for a cure

CRANBERRY ISLES — A local runner’s inspirational story is catching the attention of people both statewide and nationwide, but it also has caused ripples much closer to home. Mike Westphal from Great Cranberry Island was one of the best runners in Eastern Maine in the 1980s and ‘90s. Just over eight years ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Mike is now defying even his own doctor’s expectations by making an extraordinary effort and amazing progress to come back to running even though he has great difficultly performing day-to-day tasks.

His new goal – to compete in the Great Run Marathon on Saturday, June 20. And along the way, he won’t just be running for himself. He’ll be running for all who suffer from his disease as part of Team Fox, representing The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

“I decided it was time for me to do my part in supporting Parkinson’s disease research, and it was only natural to do it by doing something I love – running,” Mike said recently.

“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 49. I turn 58 years old just before June 20 when I run in the Great Run Marathon/Ultra on my home course on Great Cranberry Island in Maine.”

The 26.2-mile race has close to 200 people signed up for the three categories. In addition to the marathon, there are also a 6-hour individual Ultra run and a 6-hour team relay Ultra. “I can’t imagine running for 6 hours, so I’m attempting the marathon,” Westphal said. “I sincerely think I’ll finish and will give it my best effort. If I don’t quite make the full distance, I will have the sense of accomplishment of putting in hundreds of miles of training for a good cause. “One other goal is to show people newly diagnosed with PD that there is still life after the diagnosis.”

His donation goal was $4,000. He has raised nearly $18,000.

Westphal is running the race in honor of several close relatives that had or have Parksinson’s. They include his late aunt Esther Hanson, his late cousin David Fostervold, cousin Adair Halle in Norway and his sister Gretchen Westphal.

“Mike is a fixture in our local road race community. He is an inspiration to new runners as well as seasoned runners, said Robin Clarke, fitness and race director at the Downeast Family YMCA. “If you see him at a race, he is there to compete and leave everything he has on the course.”

Westphal can be contacted at P.O. Box 144, Cranberry Isles, ME 04625 or at [email protected] To donate, visit his page at www2.michaeljfox.org.

Earl Brechlin

Earl Brechlin

Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor.
Earl Brechlin

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