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Runners go the distance for Noah

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Lori Jorgensen had serious doubts about running the American River 50-Mile Endurance Run. At mile 28 she had serious doubts her body would make it to the end. But Jorgensen, 36 of Granite Bay, always got the inspiration she needed to see it through. Weeks before the race, as Jorgensen was going to back out of running alongside friend Sheri Bomhoff, fresh motivation came over her on a training run — she would run for Noah Bishop — the son of mutual friends who passed away in 2010. After that it was no turning back. Although the Bishops live in Seattle, Wash., Jorgensen was touched by their story more than a year ago. Noah, 3 at the time, and the son of Scott and Jessica Bishop died in a tragic accident while with his mother at physical therapy. The details of the accident were kept private according to the Seattle Times. Since then his family has set about building a memorial playground in his honor. “I’ve thought of Scott and Jessica every day. They have been amazing, spiritual people through this whole thing. We did a candlelight vigil in honor of Noah at Christmas,” Jorgensen said. “I went for a run by myself, I’m running back and all of a sudden I think, ‘I want to a run for Noah.’” Holding back tears Jorgensen said that her entire perspective on the race changed in that instant. She ran home and told her husband Brad Jorgensen about her newfound resolve to run. Jorgensen and Bomhoff, 41, who works in Auburn at Ceronix Inc., set a goal to raise $4,706 to contribute to the playground fund in honor of Noah’s birthday April 7, 2006. Training took on a whole new purpose. For Bomhoff, who works full-time, that meant 4:45 a.m. runs. On Sundays they would take a long run, going as far as 33 miles. Before the start of the race April 9th the fundraising amount had already been exceeded. Jessica Bishop flew down from Seattle to cheer on her newfound friends. They donned pink shirts with Noah’s picture on the back as they crossed the finish with Bishop by their side. “It was pure amazing. I’m having a hard time emptying my dishwasher today. I just want to go back to Saturday,” Jorgensen said. “The ending was completely not planned. I grabbed an arm and (Sheri) grabbed and arm and (Jessica) ran in with us.” That moment of triumph came 10 hours, 57 minutes and 40 seconds after the 6 a.m. start, putting Jorgensen and Bomhoff in the top 100 of women finishers. For Jorgensen, Bishop’s reaction made every grueling step worth it — and then some. “We had half an hour to go and (Jessica) said, ‘You have no idea how much joy I feel right now,’” Jorgensen said. “That was my Amen moment.” During tough moments knowing Bishop would be waiting at the next aid station kept Jorgensen pounding the pavement. Bomhoff’s husband Greg is an ultra runner and stepped in to pace them in Granite Bay. “I was thinking about how it had become something so much more than just a race,” Bomhoff said. “It became an incredible experience. We didn’t even blister or cramp.” Jorgensen remembered a particular 5-to-7 mile stretch where she felt on top the world and a black butterfly fluttered across her face. Later on she learned that black butterflies have a special significance to Bishop. “Jessica talked about how when her mom passed away she wanted to find something that would remind her that her mom was there. For her mom it was a hummingbird,” Bishop said. “For Noah it’s butterflies, but not just any butterflies, it’s black butterflies. Brad even commented on seeing so many butterflies, just an unusual amount.” Bishop said the weekend was magical for her, especially the last 5 miles that took her to the finish. It gave her hope that she could experience true joy again. “I felt so connected to Noah,” Bishop said. “If Noah hadn’t have gone to Heaven I wouldn’t have been able to meet these people and share this experience. It was just glory and joy. I haven’t felt joy for one year. I didn’t know if I would ever feel joy again. They gave me that gift.” The Jorgensens plan on visiting the site of Noah’s playground in June. Bomhoff plans on returning the favor and pacing for her husband Greg in July. He’ll run 135 miles from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney in the Bad Water Ultramarathon. For now Jorgensen is just taking it easy. Sunday she had breakfast with Bishop at the Flower Farm in Loomis and worked on replenishing her body. “I ate protein and had Advil. It will be a good couple of weeks before I go on any kind of run,” Jorgensen said. Being a catalyst to the Bishops’ fundraising efforts is a memory Jorgensen will treasure for the rest of her life. “This was one of the best experiences of my life. I feel like (Noah) found me. I feel like he is part of my life,” Jorgensen said. “This ranks up there with getting married and having kids.” The Bishops are working with the Department of Neighborhoods to build Noah’s memorial playground in the Maple Leaf Neighborhood just north of Seattle. They are hoping to raise $25,000 more to make Noah’s playground, complete with an adventure play area and exploration garden, a reality. For more information on the Noah Benjamin Bishop Memorial Playground Fund or to donate visit: http://www.grouprev.com/runfornoah. Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.