Running the Granddaddy of All Races -- for Her Granddaddy

December 30, 2018

By Cheryl A. Cuddahy

Erin Lovett was born and raised in Fitchburg, lived on Albee Street until she was 16, and graduated from Fitchburg High School, Class of 2001.

She is now 35 and says that anyone who knew her growing up, even in her 20s, would never have thought of her as a runner, or “even someone who would do anything athletic,” she says with a smile.

But with New Year’s Day coming up in a couple of days and resolutions made, Erin says it’s never too late to start something new or to “better yourself in any way possible.”

At age 33, Erin decided to train for and run a marathon. She was excited when her efforts paid off and she completed the Hartford Marathon when she was 34.

However, as life is unpredictable, Erin didn’t know she would soon be running for a bigger, more heart-felt, cause.

“When I found out my grandfather, Phil Chalifoux, was sick and later passed away from liver cancer, the one thing I knew was that I needed to honor him somehow,” Erin says.

Erin decided to run the Boston Marathon for the American Liver Foundation in honor of her grandfather.

“When he started to decline, it was, of course, hard to watch,” she says. “He was such an athletic and strong person. His body just kept fighting. It felt very fitting to honor him not only emotionally but physically, too.”

Phil was a standout athlete and played football at Fitchburg High School, graduating with the Class of 1951. He also played during his time serving with the U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1955 and later at the University of Vermont from 1955 to 1959.

He later married and was the proud father of two children. He enjoyed being a grandfather to two and great-grandfather two other children.

“My grandfather was a hard-working man who loved his family,” Erin reflects. “I always looked up to my grandmother and grandfather growing up. They were an important part of my upbringing and taught me many valuable lessons.”

Besides his family, Phil enjoyed his time as a teacher for Lunenburg Public Schools for many years before retiring several years ago.

Erin is quick to say that training for a marathon is very time-consuming, but rewarding.

“Marathon training is tedious, since you basically need to add miles to every run,” she explains. “So, literally, in the beginning, you just start adding miles whenever you can -- slowly but surely.”

As far as cross-training, Erin goes to Mount Fitness at Mount Wachusett Community College and does weight training or a fight class.

“I now run five days a week, including one long run a week,” she says. “You work up to it. My current long run is 8 miles. Next week it will be 10.”

Erin will also host two fundraising events in February, with proceeds going to the American Liver Foundation.

The first event is Saturday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 484 Lancaster St., in Leominster. Hypnotist Lorenzo will entertain the audience. Tickets are $20.

The second fundraiser is an Art Night on Feb. 9 at Art on the Rocks, 80 Franklin Road, in Fitchburg.

The Boston Marathon is Monday, April 15; and donations would be greatly appreciated and can be made either through Erin’s fundraising page, https://liverlifechallenge.org/ boston/support/#erinlovett, or on her Facebook group page, “Run for Gumpy.”

“I can’t think of a better way than running one of the most popular marathons in the country and, in turn, help others that may be in a similar situation as my grandfather,” Erin says.

For more information, or to purchase tickets or make a donation, email Erin at Erin.lovett@gmail.com .

Got a column subject or item for Community Conversations? Email ccuddahy@sentinelandenterprise. Read her blog at blogs.sentineland enterprise.com/ communityconversations.

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