By: Marie Bartoletti
My name is Marie Bartoletti and I am a proud daughter, mother, girlfriend, and athlete. I have done many things in my life! I was born on August 2nd, 1957 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I was born into a large family with four brothers and two sisters! I grew up playing sports and having fun with my siblings. I have always had a passion for running and athletics. In my lifetime, I have extended this passion in many areas. I have been a physical education teacher, coach of all types, hiked, biked, and ran all over the world, and even been on a Wheaties box! I have also faced a great deal of struggles in my life. In November of 2015, I had a massive stroke. This stroke has disrupted my life in so many ways but has only pushed me to be stronger. I have had a very long recovery process and I take so much pride in my ability to continue overcoming these struggles every day. The biggest side effect of the stroke that I was concerned with was my ability to speak. It seemed as though I could understand everything but not respond with my words! This was something that hit me very hard as I am a very social, outgoing person. I began to do rigorous speech therapy and still continue to work on my speech to this day. The doctors were shocked to find out that I required no physical therapy after my stroke! I was able to complete all of the challenges they tasked me with in the hospital. I was so thankful to find this out because having already lost so much of my speech ability, I feared losing my physical talents as well. Thankfully, I have continued to persevere through all of these struggles, and I continue to be so passionate about everything I do! I have run in 181 marathons since suffering my stroke. This is something that gives me great pride because I enjoy competing in marathons very much! My first marathon I ran was the Pittsburgh Marathon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I ran this marathon on May 7th of 1995. This marathon is what taught me my first real lessons about how to run in marathons! I finished at 4:01:48 in this race. My biggest mistake was that I neglected to drink water in preparation for the race! Even throughout the race I turned down water. I was in terrible pain and completely worn down after this experience! I committed to never running another marathon again, clearly that did not stick. My next marathon was in South Bend, Indiana. This was the town in which my mother was born, and my brother Tom lived. I stayed at his house in order to compete. I started the trend of traveling for marathons pretty early, already on number two! Throughout the next few years, I continued to compete in marathons while also competing nationally in tennis (another passion of mine)! Fast forward to 2005, I had traveled to Hawaii to achieve my goal of running a marathon in each state. This marathon also was my 50th marathon. In the running world this is called my titanium marathon. I was able to check off both boxes with one marathon! This occurred right after I won a competition that put me on a Wheaties box! I was rewarded with $10,000 which I donated entirely to the American Heart Association. This experience was amazing! I have gone through many injuries including operations on my bunions, broken ankles, and several concussions. Through each of these injuries I have learned perseverance. A very remarkable instance in my life was my 300th and 500th marathons. They both took place in Ft Lauderdale, Florida! They took place on 2/15/2015 then again on 2/14/2021! These occurred 200 races and almost exactly six years apart! My 500th marathon was a major accomplishment for me. I have gone through so much and I was so excited to achieve such a remarkable accomplishment. In 2019 I published a book as well that I tell my life story through. I explain how I have persevered through so much and continue to be strong every day. This book is titled Perseverance and I have sold numerous copies due to how inspirational people have found my journey. I would not be able to do any of this without the support of my amazing family and friends. I have two lovely sons named Michael and David. They have given me beautiful grandchildren and I am so thrilled to watch them grow up as well! My boyfriend John was present when my stroke occurred and has been absolutely essential to my recovery throughout the years. I am an avid Catholic and I pray to God and thank him every day for these blessings in my life. My 500th marathon was a very prideful moment, but I am most proud of the beautiful life that I am fortunate enough to live every day! My book can be purchased using the link below!