In 42 years of running Ellen Gerth, 59, has accumulated accolades. She runs marathons (26.2 miles) fast enough to get invited to the Boston and Chicago Marathons. She has even come in first in her age group a few times, but she’s quick to point out that there are races that don’t go as well.
“I’ve had bad races, and people have been there to help me get through it,” she explains. For Gerth, running is more about the people than the medals.
“The highlights are meeting the people, meeting the people in races, meeting the people running the trail, or running Bayshore,” said Gerth.
She would soon learn those people would help her stay strong when her world was crumbling around her.
“Several years ago, my mother was murdered. I found that running with people was extremely helpful in getting me through my tragedy and my heartbreak,” said Gerth. “Obviously, the heartbreak remains every day of my life, every morning, every night, I think of my mom.”
The killing took place at her mother’s home in Lakewood Ranch in 2012. Her mother, Ina Gross, was 78 years old at the time. Gerth and her mom had plans to travel to New York City for the marathon. “My mom was a big supporter of my running,” said Gerth.
This family tragedy becomes a double heartbreak for Gerth. Her brother will stand trial for the murder of their mom in August. Back in 2019, her brother, Thomas Gross, was extradited back to Manatee County from Israel to face the charges.
“I think about my mom a lot when I run because I know she wants me to remain strong for her, for the trial, for my family, for my husband,” said Gerth.
Gerth continues to rely on the people she runs with to help deal with the tragedy. She says she has runs where she cries and runs where she laughs, but with every step and emotion, there is healing.
“Losing my mom so tragically has really invigorated my understanding of the importance of good people in your life, and again that goes back to running,” said Gerth.
Gerth even gave credit to her friend who kept her running a nice pace during this year’s virtual Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic. She ran the 15K distance (9.3 miles) and timed herself. She will now submit that time to the race for receive her medal.
You can also still sign up online and run your race anywhere or anytime, but Bayshore Boulevard will be closed to vehicle traffic the mornings of May 8 and 9. Registered runners will be able to take over the street and have a safe place to run.