Running For Love

Last year, when Karen Holmes’ husband Jeff (pictured) was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, it was the beginning of a new journey for them both.

Things began to change when Jeff began experiencing sudden, unexplainable fatigue and stomach pains. For two weeks the couple went from one misdiagnosis to the next and Jeff, just 25-years-old at the time, grew weaker as time passed, losing over 20 pounds in just three weeks.

“It was a very scary time,” said Karen. “We went through several misdiagnoses. We decided to fly to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida and within 24 hours, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s.”

For the next few weeks, Jeff was put on a strict diet for symptom management right before his surgery. The couple’s main focus, as Karen wrote on her Team Challenge webpage was to get her husband’s weight up in preparation for surgery, which was a success. Watching her husband recover from surgery ignited her to do more.

That was January 2012. By February of 2012, Karen found herself in Central Park mid-winter training for her first Team Challenge marathon.

“I remember my first training in Central Park, and I thought I was going to die,” Karen laughed. “I went from huffing and puffing at 1.7 miles to 12.1 miles. I felt so much better about myself. My body felt great. I felt I could’ve have gone further.” She credits her Team Challenge coaches for helping her preserve and gain more endurance with each passing week. She advises aspiring Team Challengers to push passed any self-doubt they may experience. “I went through a period where I doubted myself but you will be amazed at what your body can do.” 
In June of this year, Karen completed the 13.1-mile Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon in honor of her husband, raising an impressive $12,250, which will help patient support and research. Next year the couple plans on running in their first Team Challenge marathon together now that Jeff is fully recovered from surgery and doing well.  Karen is more motivated than ever for the next phase of her life with her husband and her continued commitment to Team Challenge. The couple has recently moved back to their hometown of North Carolina.

“It’s been such a great bonding experience for us. We’ve been married for three years, and it’s such a great adventure we can take on together. He is my biggest supporter. I did this for him.”

Karen said her Team Challenge team members where some of the kindest, uplifting people she has ever met, summing up the entire experience participating in Team Challenge in one word-motivating."The word 'cure' is so uplifting and motivating in itself, and Team Challenge helped me feel like I was making a tangible contribution to make that inevitable cure happen."



Team Challenge is currently recruiting participants for the Rock n' Roll Team Challenge Marathon. To learn more visit: