A year ago, the 7-mile race route from Woods Hole to Falmouth was hilly, hot, and beautiful.
Shannon Mowles wanted to remember that last modifier over the first two, but more importantly, why she was running the race in the first place.
“I have always felt like I needed to give back,” said Mowles, a 24-year-old Mansfield resident who graduated from Syracuse University in 2015.
On Sunday morning, she will be back at the starting line in Woods Hole, running the 45th New Balance Falmouth Road Race, raising money that will help cancer patients with financing treatments.
Mowles is a financial assistance manager for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which was founded by the former Patriots lineman and his wife, Jen, to provide financial assistance to cancer patients and families.
“My grandmother passed away from cancer,” said Mowles. “I have a lot of aunts, cousins who had it.”
This year, she’ll be heading toward the finish with one person in mind — her grandfather, John, who died in May from prostate cancer.
“I said I would do it in his honor,” said Mowles.
His loss made Mowles see her role against cancer in another perspective.
Her family had the privilege to care for her grandfather comfortably, which many of the people asking the foundation for help do not.
“The type of role she plays, being in her early 20s, dealing with grim stories . . . she comes across as an old soul, ” said Jen Andruzzi.
Though her fundraising goal for Falmouth was $1,250, Mowles accrued well over that total a week before the race, receiving small donations from friends and family — who have posted words of support for the Samaritan running only her second race of her life.
Whether or not Mowles would be able to run at all was up in the air this summer. During a cross-training class, she sprained a ligament in her foot.
She was told not to work out, which — when running is an essential part of conditioning for a competitive run — is a fairly major setback.
The injury hasn’t stamped out Mowles’s readiness for the race.
“As long as I finish, I’ll be OK,” she said. Last year’s run to Falmouth was the first race of her life.
“[Not running] is not even an option. People have taken the time to donate to me, support me; I owe it to them and my grandfather to run.”Katherine Fominykh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.