Published April 21, 2023
BY AVERY PALSHAW
With the annual 26-mile Big Sur International Marathon approaching on April 30, some local participants are running for a deeper cause, raising money to benefit other community members or national organizations.
Carmel River Elementary School science teacher Myah Gunn and Carmel High School senior Abby Shipnuck are taking part in the marathon this year, each representing different causes related to funding people with medical conditions.
Gunn is running to raise money for Relay for Rachael, an organization which supports CHS alum Rachael Short, who is quadriplegic from a car accident. This year will be the 13th Relay for Rachael, with an annual goal of raising $60,000 to cover Short’s physical therapy costs. Many community members and friends of Short are running in the Big Sur Marathon and are collecting proceeds to help her cause.
Both Gunn and her boyfriend will be running to support Short, as they know her through the Big Sur community.
“She is a happy, healthy, and vibrant woman who has a beautiful community that wants to support her,” Gunn says.
The night before the marathon, Gunn and other runners of Relay for Rachael will attend a dinner hosted by Short, which the science teacher describes as a chance for everyone to connect and relax before the race.
“I think what I’m excited for is not just the race itself, but the community coming together,” she explains.
Meanwhile, Shipnuck’s participation in the Big Sur Marathon this year came about through partnering with the Allyson Whitney Foundation, to which Shipnuck is donating her fundraising proceeds. This foundation provides grants to young adults suffering from rare cancers, typically between ages 16-36, in order to ease the financial burdens of medical care and to allow patients to focus on healing.
Shipnuck says she feels grateful for the teachers, students, family friends and parents that have donated to support her $1,800 goal.
“It’s been super rewarding to know that all the effort, and the work I’ve put in is being given back by the community,” Shipnuck explains.
Not only is the standout athlete inspired to run the marathon for a rewarding cause, but she says she is excited to finally be able to compete in a local marathon, as she has grown up in the community.
“Big Sur is my backyard and it’s just beautiful so I’ve always been interested in running the marathon,” Shipnuck remarks, “and it’ll be a cool experience to say I did it at 17.”
Though a natural athlete, Shipnuck has been training multiple times a week while running several miles at a time to lead up to the 26-mile race. The CHS senior notes that running on the pavement on the highway will be the biggest struggle and she has been working out to prepare herself.
Gunn, who has been running for 25 years, has been running long distances on trails near her neighborhood and in the Ventana Wilderness to train for the race.
Because they have been family friends for years, Shipnuck and Gunn have a close relationship, and have even gone backpacking, hiking, and skiing together. The two express that they are hoping to run the marathon together.
Those interested in donating to the Allyson Whitney Foundation can visit the website allysonwhitney.org, while those interested in donating to Relay for Rachael can find more information at relayforrachael.com.
Robert Gunn / April 21, 2023
Myah, thanks for your comment in supporting your friend Rachael, with love yor dad.