CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Christa Hamra, who has achieved her goal of losing 50 pounds before her 43rd birthday, will celebrate on Saturday by walking 26.2 miles.
Those who have spurred her along her weight-loss journey and encouraged her to train for the upcoming single-woman marathon will join her along various increments of the walk.
"It's important that my friends have been involved from the beginning," said Hamra, of Charleston.
She has six friends who will walk with her at a distance of five miles or less each. That will make the walk go faster and offer conversation with various people along the way, she said.
The person who will join her for the first five miles is John Meadows, co-manager of Robert's Running & Walking Shop, 607 Pennsylvania Ave. on Charleston's West Side.
This is such an important milestone that he is walking in the morning before his wedding that afternoon.
"It has been such a blessing and a privilege to know Christa," said Meadows, 25. "Christa told us about this walk and was really excited about accomplishing this goal."
He first got to know her as a customer, advising her about the proper walking shoes and other gear. They became friends along the way. When he told her about the upcoming wedding, she unexpectedly dropped off a gift.
"She is so giving and generous," Meadows said.
When he learned the walk would be on his wedding day, he discussed the event with his fiance, Allison Cox, of Scott Depot.
He found out Allison had considered a run in St. Albans that morning but wondered if he was planning to do the same. As a matter of tradition, they decided not to see each other on their wedding day until the event took place Saturday afternoon. They will wed on the top deck of the Spirit of West Virginia sternwheeler on the water across from the state Capitol. The small wedding will include family and close friends.
Their respective morning exercise plans seemed to fit nicely into the schedule.
"It worked out great," Meadows said. "It's exciting to see how many other people Christa has inspired. I am passionate about running and walking. With people like Christa making these changes, more people in Charleston will get inspired.
"I chose to walk with her because she is so excited about it. She is so animated and fun. I couldn't help but be excited for her."