Brian Brown wasn’t sure at first about being the “Dash for the Cash” runner at this year’s Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k.
The more his family encouraged him, the more excited the professor of marketing at VCU became about an opportunity to campaign for a bigger, more personal cause.
Brown is running in honor of his sister-in-law, Julie Dickson Brown, who died in 2016 after battling cancer.
He will be given about a 2-mile head start on a field that’s expected to have about 25,000 runners for the 6.2-mile race on April 13. If he finishes first, he’ll pocket $2,500. If someone finishes ahead of him, the money will be donated to the VCU Massey Cancer Center.
Either way, it’s a win.
“Once I stopped goofing around with my family and them laughing about me getting beat by a bunch of elite runners, the more serious part was, ‘Look, it’s not about the money. It really is about drawing more attention to the Massey Cancer Center and to fighting cancer,’” Brown said.
“I’m not really as interested in winning as I am in just participating and drawing attention to that cause.”
Brown, 53, grew up in Alexandria and was a soccer player in high school. After college at UVA, he started running to stay healthy. He’s run two marathons but mostly sticks to half-marathons and shorter races.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a real serious runner,” he said. “It keeps me in shape, and I love the feeling of accomplishing a half-marathon. I love beating millennials.”
Brown, who was notified recently after being randomly selected, said he’s not planning to substantially increase his routine. The Mechanicsville resident rarely runs on consecutive days but tries to get in some swimming and yoga.
His advantage on the field was determined by his projected time and past performance and the projected times for some of the top runners. He finished in 50:36 last year.
“Right now I’m just mostly concerned about finishing respectably,” he said. “It’ll be fun. I’m hoping to have a little cheering section out there.”
Brown’s son, Brandon, and daughter, Chelsea, are entered in the 10k. He is hoping his sister-in-law’s son, Kaelan, will be there as well. He’s a junior at VCU.
“I may grab something from Kaelan [of hers to carry with me],” he said. “I think he and my brother would appreciate that.”