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M2M Race to Benefit Charities

The second annual M2M run — from Montessori School to Magens Bay — on Nov. 8 will have an added element this year: Rotary Sunrise and Friends, a team of runners representing Rotary International’s Polio Plus Program.

Everyone involved is excited about this year’s event, but none more than Race Director Shane DeGannes, who, along with Montessori parents, conceived the idea last year. DeGannes is the Montessori School and International Academy nurse and athletic director, where he is known as “coach nurse.”

This is one of the only race DeGannes, himself, doesn’t enter. The tall, lanky athlete, with his dreads bobbing behind him, is a regular presence at races across the territory, usually first to lope across the finish line. However, his organizational duties prevent him from running. It’s a lot of work, but it’s his baby and he has energy and determination to spare. Plus, he says, “I want to watch my kids race. I’m really excited for part two.”

Last year, the run far outdid DeGannes’s expectations. “We had 120 registered a week before the race,” he said. “Then, a few days before the race, new registrations began pouring in, and we wound up with 400.”

His goals aren’t modest.

“We’re shooting for 700 this year,” DeGannes said. “We’ve got 700 T-shirts and 700 dog tags, which are here and ready to go.” His estimate is based on last year’s figures and the enthusiasm generated from that maiden venture.

The run is a challenge, no two ways about it. The runners hit the road at 6:30 a.m., starting at the Montessori School, running through Red Hook, up Cassi Hill, turning right at Tabor Harmony Road, past Hometown Convenience Store onto Donoe Bypass, turning left at ABC Nursery, and finally, to Magens Bay Road for the last leg of the race.

DeGannes said the race isn’t quite as challenging as St. John’s Eight Tuff Miles, but it’s close. “The highest elevation on St. John is 1,000 feet. Here, it’s 703 feet.”

The Rotary Sunrise team is equally excited about its mission. Polio Plus was launched in 1985, the first and largest coordinated private-sector support of a public health initiative, with an initial pledge of $120 million. Since then, Rotarians around the world have worked to raise money to wipe out the crippling disease. Today polio has been eradicated in all but three countries, but as long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk.

Every dollar that Rotary raises at the M2M race will become $3 thanks to a 2 to 1 match from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Anyone can enter the race, DeGannes said, but he strongly suggests youngsters under 13 have parents walking along with them. The entry fee is $30 for adults and $15 for youngsters under 16.

Registration is available at the Caribbean Chiropractic Center in the Time Center, the East End Flower Shop and online at m2m@vimsia.org.

Beneficiaries of this year’s race are V.I. Mothers Against Guns, My Brother’s Workshop and the V.I. International Academy financial aid program.

Sponsors are Innovative, Scotia Bank, Comprehensive Orthopedic Global, International Capital & Management Company, the U.S. Army and Coca Cola.

DeGannes stressed the safety of the participants is the school’s primary concern. The event has been sanctioned by STAR (St. Thomas Association of Road Runners), and the VIPD. There will be a police presence and water stations available along the route.

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