Whether it was as a prep track star, or just for hobby, the sport of running has always been a part of Pam Hanson’s life, but on Nov. 7, Hanson found herself running with a purpose.
Hanson was born and raised in Havre. She attended Havre High School, where she graduated in 1985, and even attended Northern Montana College on scholarship where she perused a degree in Business. Hanson earned a track scholarship that kept her in Havre, but MSU-N discontinued the track program after her second year.
While at Havre High, Hanson ran the 200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters and was part of the 1,600 meter relay for the Blue Ponies and was a standout on the track all the way through high school.
But Hanson’s love of running has transformed over the years.
While she loved the competition of the sport through high school and college, it soon became more of a hobby as time passed.
Living in Butte where she has been for the last 11 years, Hanson continued to run, participating in 5k, 10k and even half marathon races across the state.
But on Nov. 7 in New York, Hanson went from running for fun to running with a goal as she ran in the world famous New York City Marathon, her first ever marathon race.
“It is indescribable,” Hanson said. “Never having run 26.2 miles, you don’t know what you are getting yourself into. It got to the point to where it became more than a physical race, it became mental. I really feel like it was the encouragement that we got from the people as they cheered us on that gave me the energy to finish the race.”
But first marathon or not, it was her reason for running that really propelled her to finish.
On Oct. 28, 2007 an underage driver who had been drinking killed Mariah Daye McCarthy. Mariah’s father, Leo McCarthy formed Mariah’s Challenge soon after, an organization dedicated to prevent the drinking and driving of underage drivers in Montana.
And as one of 50 other runners representing Mariah’s Challenge in New York, Hanson was given an opportunity to get the organization recognition at one of the world's biggest races.
“At the beginning, that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do the marathon,” Hanson said. “I knew that I would be able to make a difference for our kids, our community and other communities in the state of Montana. Mariah’s Challenge hits close to home because (Mariah McCarthy) was from here (Butte) and around my kids’ age levels. Knowing that could potentially happen to me, and knowing I was a part of the reason we could go out and educate kids and encourage them not to go out and drink and drive is huge.”
There were 45,360 individuals who ran the New York City Marathon this year. And though Hanson was just one of many faces in the crowd, she ran in front of thousands of spectators with Mariah’s Challenge across her shirt. And after nearly four months of training, and finishing in just over five hours, Hanson was a part of something that is working towards a fix of one of Montana’s fastest growing problems.
The New York City Marathon is not only one of the hardest races in the world, but it's also one of the most popular and just finishing is a huge accomplishment. Thousands of runners set out each year to complete the course of New York's pavement, but Hanson is one who was determined to see it through and reach the finish line on her very first try.
“Crossing the finish line was nothing but tears of joy,” Hanson said. “It was a huge sense of accomplishment.”
When Hanson was asked if she would ever run another marathon, the answer was yes.
On Oct. 11, 2011 Hanson hopes to once again be part of the Mariah’s Challenge team as they prepare to run the famed Chicago Marathon.