MINNEAPOLIS - The 32nd running of the Twin City's Marathon was to be Joe Schletty's crowning achievement: his 200th marathon. His goal was reached Sunday, but not the way Schletty planned it.
Schletty ran last year's Grandma's in Duluth, his 187th marathon. A few weeks later he was diagnoses with lung cancer. He diedlast fall at age 64.
Through their grief, members of Schletty's family got to thinking. Schletty's son David remembers the get-togetherwhen their plan was hatched. "We said, 'Hey, wouldn't it be fun if we could get 13 people to symbolically get him his 200th marathon?'"
Sunday, 16 sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and assorted inlaws set out to reach Schletty's goal for him.
Half of them had never run a marathon before, but after a summer of training, 15 of the 16 finished, meaning Schletty's goal of 200 marathon was reached,with two to spare.
Schletty's niece, Natalie Kenneally, pictured her uncle looking down on their effort and "cheering us on."
Alice Schletty, Joe's wife, stood near the finish line of the Twin Cities Marathon, same as she did for 30 straight years.She said it was hard knowing her husband wouldn't be coming over the final hill this time, but comforting knowing others were there in his place.
"It just means a lot," she said, holding back tears. "It's family sticking together."
Amazing things can happen when love runs deep.