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26.2 With Donna

When moving to Jacksonville, Florida, run a 26.2 With Donna…the nation’s only marathon dedicated solely to breast cancer research.

The 26.2 With Donna is The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer and was created by former First Coast News anchor and three-time survivor of breast cancer, Donna Deegan. She was first diagnosed in 1999, with recurrences in 2002 and 2007. During her battle with cancer, she founded The Donna Foundation which provides the necessary funds to care for local women living with breast cancer.

In June of 2006, the Mayo Clinic and The Donna Foundation announced the first official run of the 26.2 With Donna, benefiting the Mayo Clinic and women living with breast cancer.

Since its first run in 2008, 26.2 With Donna has contributed more than $3 million to its beneficiaries. 70 percent of proceeds go to The Mayo Clinic for breast cancer research, and 30 percent of proceeds go to The Donna Foundation to help breast cancer patients with financial needs.

The yearly run draws a crowd of roughly 12,000 runners from all 50 states and more than 20 countries worldwide. Coming from all over the world, runners look forward to 26.2 With Donna and despite the sometimes inclement weather, finish the race as planned. 

Being a very runner friendly course, the race is extremely well organized and the course has been carefully mapped out. Jacksonville locals show immense support for the race, letting their southern hospitality shine through.

Shanin Frost from Tallahassee, Florida participated in 26.2 With Donna (her first marathon ever), and this is how she described the Jacksonville run.

                “Running through beachside neighborhoods and small coastal downtown areas all decked out in pink with fans, spectators, breast cancer survivors, musicians, dj's, loud people with stereos, costumed people, did I mention how much pink there was??, food offerings, and everyone happy to have you there running in their race, blocking up traffic in their town, to honor their local celebrity and hero (Donna Deegan) was a pleasant (and humbling) surprise. Made the 26.2 miles go by fast (except the bridge at the last two miles, but that is necessary if you are going to get across the intracoastal to the finish area). Port-o-potties were abundant and conveniently located at start area, finish area and throughout the course, water/aid stations were right where you needed them, course was well marked between the half and full, the beach was beautiful, the back part of the course (marathon only) wound itself through beautiful oak lined areas, the Galloway pacing groups were a huge bonus, the medals were fully engraved and gorgeous (no more stickers), and the pre-hype leading up to race day got you excited to be racing in this wonderful event.”

Race participants say that the marathon is very emotional from the large crowd cheering them on, to the families holding signs of their lost loved ones. 26.2 With Donna is a Breast Cancer Awareness Month one-of-a-kind event so no matter where you live, if you would like to participate in The Donna Foundation’s and The Mayo Clinic’s effort to END breast cancer, be sure to check out their website for the annual race date and prices at breastcancermarathon.com.