Tom Sharp's Runner/Rider Marathons Allow Disabled Individuals to Experience the Joy of Athletics and Crossing the Finish Line

Tom Sharp ⁠pushing rider-athlete Ryan at a marathon in Minneapolis to raise awareness of unified athletics and inclusion. Photo courtesy of Tom Sharp.

Who are the two-person marathon team?

Tom Sharp is a husband, father, track coach, Minneapolis, Minnesota high school teacher and all 'round fun guy who was the roommate of member Jennifer Begg's husband Michael at the University of Wisconsin.

This year, Tom was planning to visit his friend Michael and to run the Marine Corps marathon this year with Briana Rachel, alongside an elite group of other athletes, until the marathon was cancelled for the second year in a row.

⁠Briana Rachel is mobility-challenged and a student at George Mason University.

Why Lake Barcroft for this marathon?

Running in two-person marathons is personally rewarding for Tom. He finds joy in enabling a person who needs assistance to participate in an endurance event. Tom runs full 26-mile marathons multiple times a year pushing a "rider-athlete" in a specially designed wheelchair. When the Marine Corps Marathon was cancelled again this year, both Tom and Briana were devastated to miss participating in an athletic event together.

Tom says, he couldn't let Briana miss this opportunity a second time, so he decided to run a "virtual marathon" here at Lake Barcroft. The marathon is "virtual" because it is an unofficial marathon that he is running to raise awareness of athletic partnerships involving an athlete and an individual who needs assistance to participate in athletics.

⁠Tom is grateful for the opportunity to run this virtual race in our lovely Lake Barcroft community and to provide Briana with the experience of participating in a marathon. Tom wishes to repay the Lake Barcroft community for our support and hospitality by running this virtual marathon for donations to the Lake Barcroft Woman's Club charities.

What can we all do as neighbors to help Tom and Briana get to the finish line on Sunday, October 31st?

Imagine running with about 30,000 other athletes, surrounded by a couple hundred thousand cheering spectators at the Marine Corps Marathon in downtown D.C. and around the Potomac River. It is the excitement of the crowd and the camraderie of running with thousands of others that help push Tom with his rider-athlete to the finish line. Well, with just Tom and Briana running through Lake Barcroft, it will be rather quiet by comparison . . . maybe too quiet.


⁠Let's come out and cheer, wave and honk as Tom and Briana run by. Your participation will make this marathon unbelievably special for rider-athlete Briana! 

So, tune in on ZOOM when Jennifer Beggs broadcasts the marathon LIVE to keep you abreast of Tom and Briana's whereabouts so you, your family and neighbors can step outside for a little while and cheer them on. You can even join them on the route for a while by:

  • Putting on your sneakers and walk or jog,
  • Grabbing your bikes and pedal,
  • Driving by in your cars and honk!
  • Meeting them at one of the five Lake Barcroft beaches when they stop for water breaks.

You can help make this a fantastic, meaningful, and memorable race.

⁠A quote from Tom: "I hope you can step out and support us. I'm just an old guy with a bit of a gut who isn't smart enough to know when to stop running. Honestly, the real challenge is for Briana. She has to sit still for about 4-1/2 to 5 hours, listen to me huff and puff, and trust that I will deliver her safely to the finish line." 

(The race route will be posted very soon. As you can imagine, we are working hard to prepare a route that is both safe and fairly flat! Imagine pushing about 150 pounds UPHILL!)

We all can celebrate this opportunity to raise awareness of athletic inclusion and to raise needed funds for the Woman's Club charities which are:

  • ⁠Haven of Northern Virginia
  • Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
  • New Hope Housing
  • Bailey's Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department
  • The Campagna Center
  • Justice High School Scholarship Fund

The donations from this marathon will be pooled with other 2021-2022 fundraisers such as the House Tour and raffle and be distributed in May 2022 to the six local charities selected by the Woman's Club membership for this club year's fundraising efforts.⁠