by Roger Zotti
After Lisbon’s Chuck Brenker finished the 2009 Hartford Marathon, October 26, you’d think he’d have reason to celebrate. After all, it was his 100th marathon. But Chuck didn’t celebrate because, as he put it: “It’s not a big deal.” I have news for Chuck: His accomplishment is an extremely big deal.
As for the race itself, Chuck explained, “I was injured beforehand, so I knew it was prudent that I back off the pace. My friend Gary Tremblay and I had initially planned to run a certain pace, but he took off and had a beautiful second half….I planned to finish at 4:30 and I did. It wasn’t a run for a personal best.” Then, about a month after the Hartford Marathon, Chuck competed in the JFK 50 Miler, in Hagertown, Maryland. “It was my ninth consecutive ultra-marathon, and it’s an incredible course,” he said. “The first one I ran was when I was fifty years old.”
Interestingly, Chuck doesn’t believe that running marathons “makes you any healthier. Most of us are so obsessed with what we do that we will run through injuries, like I did in Hartford. We’ll do whatever we have to do to cross that finish line. Guess what? I’ll be going in for an MRI in a few days to see if I have a stress factor in my foot.” So, did he entertain ideas of pulling out of the JFK 50 miler? “No way,” he said, with a laugh.
In 1969 Chuck started running. Then in 1970, when he was stationed on a submarine, the Commanding Officer announced a contest. “Whoever lost the most weight could go to whatever school he wanted to,” said Chuck said, who lost the most weight and picked Navy Diver School. There, he became intensely involved in calisthenics and running. Fast forward to 1976 and Chuck’s first marathon: “It was the Oceanside California Marathon. At the time I was stationed with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service at Camp Pendleton, California….I ended up my active duty in 1976.”
Yes, Chuck has a goal when he runs – which “is to run long, to run healthy, and to have the best life I can as long as I can.” His advice to runners is “find a running group. When I moved here I saw a few guys running, befriended them, and soon it became an informal running group. It is so much easier to run with other people. Try to find people who enjoy running. Talk and have fun while you run. And for a first time marathoner – don’t over-train.”
Clearly, running is a huge part of Chuck’s life and so is apheresis which, according its website, is defined as a procedure that “collects platelets or plasma from a donor. The remaining blood components, including the red cells, are returned to the donor.” A State of CT Special Donor, Chuck has completed almost three hundred apheresis procedures and wants to “get the word out” about the process. For more information about apheresis, visit www.bloodct.org/what_is_apheresis.php.