Sugarland guitarist Thad Beaty will be running in the Rock ’n’ Roll’s Seattle Marathon event’s 8K run as part of a new charity partnership with the Edith Sanford Breast Foundation.
Now, running is nothing for Thad Beaty.
Hours after landing in Seattle on Wednesday, the musician-turned-health-advocate hadn’t decided which race he’d run in the city’s Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon event on Saturday. He flicked his wrist while stating, “Oh, I’ll do something.”
Beaty will be a late entry to the series’ new 8K run, created as part of a new charity partnership with the Edith Sanford Breast Foundation. The nearly 5-mile course is designed for beginning runners. It sold out in May.
Rock ’n’ Roll Seattle Marathon
What: The Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon is a series of races in 30 cities. This is the seventh time it has been in Seattle.
When: The full marathon, half-marathon and 8K race begin at 7 a.m. Saturday.
Where: The race starts at Seattle Center (John Street and 4th Avenue) and ends at Seattle Center (Mercer Street and 3rd Avenue).
Post-race event: Mudhoney will headline a concert near the finish line at Seattle Center.
Road closures: Roads impacted by Saturday’s races include the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Interstates 5 and 90, some of which will be closed into the early afternoon. For a full list of street closures, go to seattletimes.com/sports.
The decision to run wasn’t that easy five years ago for Beaty, a guitarist in the Grammy-winning band Sugarland. About 70 pounds heavier than his now 170-pound 5-foot-10 frame, Beaty was a sugar addict. Spot a bowl of M&Ms and the candy-coated chocolate treats would be gone in seconds.
“The thing that gets you into the most trouble is the bus,” he said of touring. “You have a rider that says, ‘Hey, we need 18 boxes of Twinkies on the bus and a pizza after the show every night.’ Then we’ve got a caterer where it’s like a 24-hour Golden Corral that follows you around. And, also after the show, they bring what the city is known for. Deep-dish pizza in Chicago, cheesesteaks in Philly — you’re inundated with food everywhere.
“The first part was breaking the habit. I have to treat every day, food-wise, like I’m an alcoholic. I can’t just go to happy hour on Wednesday and then turn it off.”
Beaty’s mother Janice expedited the process. She was found to have colon cancer in 2009. The family, including Thad’s brother and wife, collectively decided to change their eating habits and exercise more.
Dubbing it “food crowding,” the family filled up on vegetables, fruits and water to not have room for the junk always at arm’s reach. Thad, a casual runner in college, rededicated himself to the sport.
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The Beatys have lost a combined 150 pounds while the 40-year-old Thad has completed two Ironman competitions, one marathon and triathlons in the past five years.
Saturday is Beaty’s first Rock ’n’ Roll event as a participant, however. He lives in Nashville and has helped find musicians to perform for the marathon series’ unique twist that features bands along its courses.
While the Beatys’ health is better, they got a scare last year when doctors found a cancerous spot in Janice’s lungs. She had the lower right lobe of her lung removed in January and scans this month showed no signs of cancer. The jarring time reaffirmed Thad’s commitment to heath.
“It’s crazy,” Beaty said. “The first time, you don’t know what to expect and you don’t know how you’re supposed to feel — this isn’t a big deal and scared to death all at the same time. This time, we had the mentality of we knew what to expect. It’s a buckle down, here we go, again. But I get chills thinking about it because (cancer) is a nasty, nasty thing.”
Thad has taken what he’s learned about health, running and cancer to start and join foundations in the fight against it. He’s a certified triathlon and running coach. People he’s helped often send pictures once they’ve reached their heath goals.
Now Beaty is broadening those efforts. He’s an inaugural ambassador of the Edith Sanford Breast Foundation at the Rock ’n’ Roll race Saturday, an organization focusing on individualized breast cancer treatments using genetic code. The runners wearing “Team Edith” apparel at the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon received a discounted entry fee if they pledged to raise at least $50, with all of the proceeds going to research.
“I want to help people understand how important being proactive and reclaiming their heath is,” said Beaty, who’s rid himself of high blood pressure and high cholesterol since making his lifestyle change. “With the team, we’re just inviting people into a welcoming, fun, awesome space where they can do two things: accomplish something they never thought they could do while simultaneously helping a cause do something that’s extraordinary.”
Beaty said running for a cause or person makes a difference in focus and training. His wife’s mother is a breast cancer survivor while her maternal grandmother died of breast cancer at the age of 34.
“I find most people have a very deeply-connected reason why they’re going to race,” he said. “This is my ‘why.’ ”