Fairfield teacher aimed to “run for good,” for Sandy Hook

November 28, 2016 GMT

FAIRFIELD — In Meg Capodanno’s home and classroom, she has the motto, “Run for good.” Running as a life skill is a great habit, the Roger Ludlowe Middle School teacher said, but she encourages pairing running with a cause, charity or good intentions.

The Fairfield resident followed her own advice on Sunday, running her second marathon as part of a team to benefit Sandy Hook Promise, a Newtown-based nonprofit founded by families of victims of the 2012 elementary school shooting.

After the school shooting in late 2012, “I had a hard time just dealing with what had happened and explaining it to students, explaining it to kids,” Capodanno said. “Now these lock-downs are commonplace. School shootings — our kids are growing up with that almost being a norm to hear about.”

The year after the tragedy, she was planning her 26th marathon, generally a celebratory race for marathon runners. She chose to map out a 26-mile marathon route from her home to the Sandy Hook fire house, running in honor of teachers and students killed during the shooting.

“Running is how I cope; running is how I regroup and feel and process things,” she said. “It’s just my sanity in so many ways.”

Capodanno ran the route privately without fundraising and then did it again the next year in September, when students headed back to school.

“It just helped me,” she said. “I carried the names with me. Every mile or so I would just make sure I read a name, said a little prayer and it just was something I wanted my own three children to witness.”

After her second private marathon, Sandy Hook Promise announced it would be fundraising with a New York City Marathon team and participating “just made sense,” she said. Capodanno ran with the team last year and this month. The recent run marked Capodanno’s 31st marathon and sixth time finishing the New York City Marathon.

“It was just a great experience,” she said, of connecting with runners joining up for the cause from across the country. She hopes to apply to run with the team again.

To get to the marathon on Sunday, Capodanno left Fairfield at 4 a.m. with a charter bus of other runners. She had a few hours of lag time between her arrival and a 10:40 a.m. start time, and while she was ready to run, Capodanno said she got to meet runners from all over the world that traveled to New York to run.

Along the route, Capodanno’s husband and three children, as well as two of her friends, were waiting at mile 17 in the Sandy Hook Promise cheer zone and then made their way to Columbus Circle to cheer her on again at mile 23.

The experience running Sunday was “life-affirming,” Capodanno said, as people from all walks of life came together for a beautiful, positive day in the city. Her first-ever marathon run, in 1991, was at the New York City Marathon that year.

Capodanno is in her second year of teaching seventh grade at Roger Ludlowe. Before that, she taught at Osborn Hill Elementary School. She began her teaching career in Stamford in 1989.

This year, her students were “really into” her plans to run the marathon, she said. Her cousin secured her one of the banners from last year’s race, now hanging in her classroom.

“They’re at a nice age where they can get their heads around that. They can really appreciate the athletic undertaking,” Capodanno said. “They’re tested on the mile every year, so they have some sort of frame of reference. They really did understand what must go into it.”

To train, Capodanno did a “monster run” every other weekend, with shorter runs hitting 15 miles and her longest runs tallying 22.

The Sandy Hook Promise team has raised just over $100,000. Fundraising is open until the end of December. Capodanno’s page can be found at crowdrise.com/

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Lweiss@hearstmediact.com; @LauraEWeiss16