Forget me not: Local family fights Alzheimers through marathon

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PORTLAND — For members of the Marr family, this year’s Maine Marathon is more than just an annual road race. It’s a day to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

On Sunday, Oct. 4, more than 70 members of the Marr family will participate in either the half marathon or marathon relay in support of the Josephine and John Marr Alzheimer’s Research Fund at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The goal is to raise $75,000 for future research and, as of Sept. 23, the Marrs are more than halfway there.

Falmouth resident John Marr, 83, said his family is so deeply involved because his wife Josephine has Alzheimer’s. John and his family gave $2 million to BWH in September to establish the fund and to encourage earlier detection and further research aimed at preventing the disease.  Most research on individuals with symptoms of the disease begins at age 65 and older, while Marr said research should start at age 50.

“Now my family and grandchildren got quite aggressive on fundraising on an annual basis,” Marr said, which led to fundraising at the Maine Marathon. Marr said while the $2 million to Brigham and Women’s came from the family, the $75,000 donation is coming through online fundraising.

Marr said he had been looking into organizations working to put an end to Alzheimer’s for future generations, and eventually settled on Brigham and Women’s because of its history of working on the disease and other neurological issues.

“I feel great about being able to put it into something that I can see results from,” Marr said.

The 75 or so members of the Marr family will join nearly 3,500 other runners for the 2015 Maine Marathon. Marr will not be in the race, but will have a cookout for his family once the race is over.

The 24th annual Maine Marathon begins and ends at Baxter Boulevard, between Forest Avenue and Preble Street. All races start at 7:45 a.m. In addition to the 26.2-mile marathon, there is also a half marathon and marathon relay. An early 6 a.m. start is available for those walking the marathon who expect to maintain a pace of 13 minutes per mile or slower.

A number of roads will be closed to traffic during the race. In Portland, Baxter Boulevard between Forest Avenue and Preble Street will be closed from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. In Falmouth, Depot Road  from Route 1 to Route 88 will be closed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Route 88 from Depot Road to north of Depot Road will be closed from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Johnson Road from Route 1 to Route 88 will be closed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., with local traffic permitted. Gilman Road in Yarmouth from Route 88 to Prince’s Point Road will be closed from 9 to 11 a.m.

Additionally, spectators are asked not to park on Route 88 at any point on the course, as runners will be traveling in both directions.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

The 24th annual Maine Marathon is Sunday, Oct. 4.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or