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MN man runs 500 miles for pancreatic cancer

Mark Dowdle will begin his run in Illinois and end right here in Minnesota at the St. Paul Capitol steps.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — On Saturday, October 8, Mark Dowdle will embark on a journey many of us would shy away from.

Dowdle is running 500 miles in under eight days. He'll run up to 60 miles a day. The journey will take him from the Springfield, Illinois Capitol steps to St. Paul's Capitol steps.

"It’s going to get really painful out there, and I’m excited about that because when I’m out there in those moments, there’s no time or energy to put up a front," said Dowdle.

He's running the distance to raise $50,000 for pancreatic cancer. The money will go to help high school students whose lives have been impacted by cancer and to pancreatic cancer research. 

This isn't the first time he's done a massive running challenge. In 2020, he ran 160 miles from Duluth to St. Paul. Last year, he ran 276 miles from Fargo, North Dakota to Stillwater, Minnesota.

But the run also serves another purpose. Dowdle is running to pay tribute to Laurie Weber. In 2020, she passed away from pancreatic cancer.

"Her story didn't end the day she left us," said Dowdle.

So, to continue her story, Mark, a family friend, runs and raises money for the Love Like Laurie Legacy Foundation.

"You can rewrite the story around painful moments to really have a hopeful future," said Dowdle.

Step by step. Mile by mile, he's working toward a goal much bigger than himself.

"I've adopted him as my son, so I can call him son," said John Weber, Laurie's husband.

Weber says he has no doubt Laurie would be proud of her family and Mark. Not only proud about the yearly run, but proud that helping others has become a part of who they are.

"We all made an agreement that as we came across people in our lives who have been touched by cancer, we might make a donation," said Weber.

More than two years after her passing, Laurie's effort and pain were not in vain. Her strength and love are on display when needed most.

"Your pain is heard and we're out there for you too," said Dowdle. It's like this incredible concoction of love pushing forward."

Before the big journey, Weber gives Dowdle the pep talk of a lifetime.

"He needs to make sure he rests and sleeps," said Weber. "I know he wants to get done in a certain amount of time. But I need him to sleep."

The full route will be posted on Dowdle's Instagram, for those interested in joining him along the way.

If you don't want to run the full distance, you can join them for the last portion of the run. You'll run about a quarter of a mile from St. Paul Cathedral to the capitol steps.

If you'd like to donate click here.

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