Harrison County

These sisters ran for a special reason in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon

Maria Rodgers, left, of Ocean Springs and sister Christine Rodgers of Pittsburgh, center, finish a half-marathon with their traditional hand-hold, followed by raised arms, along with Sonja McCaskill of Petal.
Maria Rodgers, left, of Ocean Springs and sister Christine Rodgers of Pittsburgh, center, finish a half-marathon with their traditional hand-hold, followed by raised arms, along with Sonja McCaskill of Petal. calee@sunherald.com

They are probably the only sisters in America who made good on a 2016 New Year’s resolution.

Christine Rodgers, 31, works as a physician’s assistant and lives in Pittsburgh. Her sister, Maria Rodgers, 27, lives in Ocean Springs, where she is a post-doctoral fellow at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

The sisters, who have always been close, wanted to make sure they spent time together this year despite the distance. So they pledged as a New Year’s Resolution to run in 12 half marathons. They hit their goal Sunday with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon.

The sisters crossed the finish line holding hands, which has been their custom, with a time of 3:06:30. The sisters finished six marathons together this year and ran in six others individually.

They wore T-shirts that said on back: “12 half marathons, 7 states, 2 sisters.”

Both sisters are athletic, but Christine has always been the runner. Swimming is more Maria’s sport.

“I knew that she was determined and dedicated,” Christine said, “but she really shined through. I’m just really proud of her and her dedication.”

Maria said, “She’s a much better runner than I am. . . . I just appreciated that she never left me behind.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

By the numbers

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon is growing each year, organizers say, although they think the number of participants this year would have been even higher if everyone had realized clouds and freezing temperatures would give way Sunday to abundant sunshine.

  • 545 — Marathon runners Sunday
  • 1,779 — Half-marathon runners Sunday
  • 2:28:43 — Time of marathon male winner Ben Schneider of Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 3:10:03 — Time of marathon female winner Kate Rountree of Lafayette, Louisiana
  • 1:16:42 — Time of half-marathon male winner Michael Marineaux of Lafayette, Louisiana
  • 1:25:48 — Time of half-marathon female winner Leah Watters of Pass Christian, Mississippi
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