While the rest of the city was relaxing at home over the 4th of July weekend, Miami Shores resident Caryn Lubetsky was commencing a 150-mile run throughout South Florida to raise money for The Childhood Cancer Project, an organization that supports childhood cancer research.
Lubetsky was supposed to be competing in the Badwater ultramarathon, widely considered one of the world’s most challenging races, but the 135-mile race that treks through Death Valley in the height of summer was canceled due to concerns around COVID-19. Lubetsky decided to keep running and fundraising anyway. In the time it would take her to complete the Badwater 135, 150 children would be diagnosed with cancer; therefore, she charted a 150-mile course through South Florida in their honor
“The race may have been cancelled,” Lubetsky said, “but childhood cancer isn’t. I have to push forward for these kids.”
Lubetsky’s running career began when she was 40 and she simply wanted to try a marathon. Since then, Lubetsky has competed in at least fifty marathons, two ultra-marathons of 125 miles or more, six 100-mile races, three 50K races, two 12-hour races, three 6-hour races, and one 3 days, 300-mile triathlon, finishing in the overall podium in most races.
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In 2013, just after Lubetsky crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon the bombs went off. The experience changed her and her family forever and she realized that there must be a greater purpose to her running. After her experience in Boston, Lubetsky began running with Kerry Gruson, a paraplegic endurance athlete. The team has completed countless races including a 3-day 300-mile triathlon, two full Ironmans, 3 half Ironmans, and several marathons and shorter races. Together, Lubetsky and Gruson have set two Guinness World Records: one for “the fastest marathon run by a woman while pushing a wheelchair”, and “most triathlons hauling another person in a month”.
By the time her good friend’s young son was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare type of childhood cancer, in 2015, Lubetsky had already run several 100-mile races. In those difficult moments, Lubetsky realized that she could use her extreme racing competitions as a platform to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer.
“Cancer came and knocked at her door, but we all answered,” says Lubetsky. Since 2015 almost all of her runs have been dedicated to The Childhood Cancer Project – an organization that raises funds for childhood cancer research.
Lubetsky’s recent 150-mile run that took her from Miami Shores, to South Pointe, to Key Biscayne, and up to the Palm Beach County Line and back – through two sunrises and two sweltering South Florida days – raised $13,000 for sarcoma research at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. She completed the run in 38 hours and 3 minutes.
What comes next for someone with such an extraordinary list of athletic achievements and purpose? Lubetsky is looking forward to getting back into the races to continue raising money for the estimated 15,300 children who will be diagnosed with cancer this year. She’ll run for the children no matter what, but nothing compares to the energy, positivity, and support that she finds within the ultrarunning racing community.
To donate to The Childhood Cancer Project text DEVELOP to 44321.