by Cassidy Allen Chubb
Twenty-six miles. That’s how far Hawks Travel & Equipment Manager Zac Walsh ran around Brookhaven in lieu of the Boston Marathon’s postponement.
The race was originally scheduled for Apr. 20, but as the coronavirus pandemic changed everyone’s lives, and the Marathon was postponed, he decided to still run it. Except it was around his home city of Brookhaven.
Little did he know, he’d see familiar faces along the way.
It all started with a few silly gifs. Chelsea Lane, the Hawks’ Vice President of Athletic Performance and Sports Medicine, went back and forth with Walsh over text, sharing gifs of people running, which Lane found humorous because she’s not a runner. And then came a text from Walsh that said, “You’re going to think I’m mad (crazy), but I’ve decided I’m going to run a marathon at home.”
Lane didn’t believe him at first, but he reassured her that he was going to do it. That’s when Lane took over.
“I was planning on running it just around my neighborhood," Walsh said. "There were about four more weeks of training and I was like ‘I’ve already done 17 weeks of training, why don’t I just keep going for a little longer.’”
Running a marathon among thousands of people is no small thing. Subtract all the people and picture one person physically enduring it alone; that’s an even bigger thing.
“Everyone is such a big fan of Zac’s. This is something we could all enjoy. Well, he’s not going to enjoy it very much,” Lane laughed.
If Walsh couldn’t go to Boston for the race, Lane was going to recreate that atmosphere in Atlanta with the help of Hawks players, coaches and staff. Walsh’s wife planned out his whole race and created a map that showed where he would be at each mile with timings.
They shared it with the group, unbeknownst to Walsh. Throughout his 26-mile trek, he had supporters cheering him on along the way.
Assistant Coach Greg Foster and Lane were together at one of the mile markers. Lane laughed and said that at one point, their timings were a little off and they sort of lost track of him.
But Hawks center Damian Jones found him and called Lane, saying “I got him.”
A crew of people including Hawks forward Skal Labissiere, Head Coach Lloyd Pierce, his wife and daughter, clapped and cheered for Walsh as he crossed the finish line in front of Walsh’s home. His wife and kids were there to greet him with 'Run Daddy Run' signs and a gold trophy.
“It was shocking. I had no idea that people would be there to cheer me on when I was finishing. I saw people along the way and then they were there at the end. It made it special, made it act like you were running for something actually,” Walsh said.
This race marks Walsh’s third marathon, and it’s not going to be his last. About 10 years ago, he started running to lose weight and its become something that’s a part of him. So much so that even on game days, he runs three to five miles. Every game day.
The Boston Marathon is rescheduled for Sept. 14, and even though Walsh has already completed a marathon this year, he’s still planning to run in it.
Lane and all of the Hawks staff and players were proud to cheer on the guy that does so much for them.
“It was a huge thing for him to achieve, just running a marathon anyway, but it was impressive what he did for us to be able to join in and have something fun to do as a team,” Lane said. “We were seeing people we hadn’t seen for four weeks. And everyone was there because Zac got us out there.”
Hawks Travel & Equipment Manager Completes Marathon with Support from Hawks Players, Coaches