Team to run in memory of late marathoner Theresa McCourt in Saturday event

Theresa McCourt, an athlete and poet who inspired many members of Sacramento’s running community, will be honored Saturday during a run benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California.

The Fab 40s 5K Run/Walk is marking its 10th anniversary, and this year more than 100 of the participants have joined “Team Theresa,” said runner Dianne Cohn.

McCourt, 58, a longtime runner who came close to qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team, was fatally struck by a vehicle in April after wandering from her neighborhood on foot. She was diagnosed in 2012 with logopenic primary progressive aphasia, a rare form of dementia characterized by a loss of language and reasoning skills.

She continued to run, even as her ability to read, drive and care for herself declined. Others ran with her to keep her from straying off course, Cohn said.

McCourt was a marathon runner who was much loved and respected by fellow runners.

“If she was running past you in a race, she would grab your hand and say, ‘You can do this,’ ” Cohn said.

McCourt wrote about running for publications including The Sacramento Bee, and she was a poet. Cohn said Team Theresa will be wearing purple shirts sporting McCourt’s picture on the front with some of her poetry on the back.

Cohn said she was gratified by the number of people who responded to invitations via social media to join the team to honor McCourt.

“It’s been a beautiful experience for all of us,” she said. “We’re really, really excited.”

The run is named for Sacramento’s “Fabulous 40s,” neighborhood, in which it is held. Registration is scheduled from 7 to 8:30 a.m. at East Lawn Memorial Park, 4300 Folsom Blvd., in East Sacramento.

A quarter-mile run for children 5 and younger starts at 8:05 a.m., and a half-mile run for 6- to 10-year-olds starts at 8:10 a.m. The 5K run/walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. Cohn said registrations are accepted on the day of the event.

East Lawn Memorial Park is home to the Alzheimer’s Memorial Wall, the first of its kind in the nation. It is modeled after the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, and people can inscribe the name of a loved one who has died from or is living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Cohn said McCourt’s picture and name have already been etched on the wall. Team members will gather at the wall for a photo at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy