Ralph Balsamo is my very best friend and ... he has Alzheimer's.
It took Richie Innormorato and Ralph's partner Betty Marolla to stir me into action. Richie wrote this in the Broadway Ultra Society (BUS) newsletter I received last night. Some of you may remember Ralph.
"Ralph Balsamo is an original BUS member. He was also a hell of a runner. He finished 2nd in the Knick 60K and the Bear Run 70K, and once ran 9:22 (a pace of 8:02 per mile) in the Sri Shinmoy 70 Mile. But more important, he is kind, very giving, compassionate and a very good friend. Ralph is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. His partner in life and dearest friend, Betty Marolla has been there for Ralph with love and support during these very difficult times. Betty will be participating in the Memorial Walk on Sunday, October 23 at Riverside Park at 11 am (New York City). I implore you to please make a donation to help improve the lives affected by this disease. You can make your contribution to the Alzheimer's Association - NYC Chapter, Attn: Memory Walk 2005, 360 Lexington Avenue - 5th Floor, New York, NY 10017. Please state that your donation is for participant Betty Marolla in honor of Ralph Balsamo. Thank you very much."
Ralph is the reason I ran ultras, through his encouragement, support and love I was able to complete 15 ultras. He was my Ultra Running idol. He did them all - Western States, Pioneer 100 mile Trek, Met 50 miler, Sybil Luddington and more than I can remember. He was the perfect runner. He ran before the boom and after the boom. He did the big races NYCM and Boston and the small races Yonkers and Jersey Shore (when it started and finished in Asbury Park). He ran short and fast and long and fast. I would chase him and he would wait for me at the finish. When we both lived in NJ we ran every weekend together. Long meandering runs and conversations. We'd tell each other stories and jokes and repeat them over and over. We never tired of each other, the stories and especially the jokes. I nominated him for the Millrose AA and am honored to be his teammate. I am honored to have shared more miles with him than I can remember. I am honored to have him as my friend. Everyone should have a running friend like Ralph!