Family and friends of the late Charlene Barron – a dedicated runner, biker and swimmer – are sponsoring Charlene’s Dog Run on September 10, 2017 to support brain injury research at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minn. Barron ran in more than 40 marathons – twenty of these in the Twin Cities Marathon and 8 in Boston. The year the bomb went off in Boston she was only 100 yards from the finish at the time of the explosion; her time was 4:08. She also completed 9 Ironman Triathlons, including the World Championship Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii at age 60, and skied 30 American Birkebeiners in Hayward, WI.
On the morning of Aug 17, 2016, Charlene was riding with her friend and training partner Sarah Goullaud. “It was a beautiful sunny morning and the biking conditions were exceptional,” said Goullaud. “We started our bike ride at 8:30am heading south into the wind. We planned on riding 20-25 miles. Charlene was in front of me until we got to the intersection where I went in front of her. We turned right onto a lovely road. The only thing unusual was that she usually rode in front of me – but I knew she would catch up with me soon.” “The next thing I heard was metal on the pavement. When I looked back Charlene was not moving, in the middle of the road, unresponsive, feet still clipped into her pedals. As I went running towards her yelling, my first concern was that a car would come along and hit her.”
Barron was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center where she was diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury, shoulder fracture, four rib fractures, a lung contusion, pelvic, sacrum and spine fractures. She was taken straight from the stabilization room to the operating room where she underwent immediate surgery to relieve pressure and bleeding on both sides of her brain. This was the first of what would ultimately be five neurosurgical operations to try and restore neurologic function. Despite best efforts, she ultimately died from complications related to her brain injury.
Barron’s friends and family have chosen to honor her memory and relentless spirit by holding a fundraiser to support brain injury prevention. “She was one of the strongest women I knew, both emotionally and physically,” said her husband, Dr. Steve Barron. When their son Adam died in 2006, “she held our family together and she inspired all of us by her energy and resilience throughout her life.” “Because Charlene loved her dogs, and they were her constant running companions for many years, we decided to hold a dog run at Baker Park,” he explained. The dog run will occur on Sunday, September 10, 2017 with registration at 8:00 and a 9:00 AMstart time. Registration and more information is at tinyurl.com/charlenesrun.
The fundraiser will support research investigating whether neck strengthening can contribute to decreased incidence, severity and duration of concussion symptoms in 1500 youth athletes recruited at seven Minneapolis/St Paul area schools. The research is being conducted by Dr. Uzma Samadani and colleagues from Hennepin County Medical Center’s Brain Injury Research Lab.
“We are honored to be the benefactor of this fundraiser inspired by the memory of such a tremendous role model,” said Dr. Samadani. “We hope that our work will reflect favorably on her legacy. She clearly was a woman who understood the risk/benefit of sports and we hope that our research will lead to improved understanding of how to decrease the risk of brain injury associated with sports benefitting future generations of athletes.”