The inaugural Aspen TNT (Town-N-Trail) 10K road and trail race kicks off Saturday at 9 a.m. Founded by longtime Aspenite Lexi McNutt, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2011, this new benefit for MS (with 100 percent of proceeds donated to the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National Sclerosis Foundation) is an important addition to Aspen’s philanthropy umbrella. We caught up with McNutt before she hit the trails for a beautiful and impressive fall trail run.
How did the idea for Aspen TNT come about?
I run with a group of girls. We have regular Wednesday morning runs throughout the summer, that turn into Wednesday morning skins in the winter. On one of these runs last fall, I mentioned that I wanted to do a group run with friends to benefit MS research. My friend, Julie Hardman, encouraged me to start a community event. So over the winter skins and summer runs we developed the idea of the Aspen TNT.
What is most needed in the fight against MS?
We need to continue to fund research on three fronts: To repair the damage that has been done by MS, to stop the disease in its tracks, and to get rid of the disease entirely so no one hears the words...You have MS.
Does exercise (trail running) play a role for you personally in fighting the disease?
It plays a huge role for me. My MS doctor, Dr. Bowling in Denver, advocates strongly that exercise is one of the five main ways to manage MS. I have run a lot for several years, and I personally believe that it is one of the reasons that my MS symptoms are on the mild side. Trail running is especially important to me because I find a spiritual connection when I am in the mountains and it helps me find that mind-body connection. It is very important to me to enjoy trail running as much as I can now. I may not always be able to do it and that is part of the reality of MS.
What are your hopes for the inaugural Aspen TNT?
My goal is to start a successful community event that lasts for several years. My husband and I feel that if someone had not been raising money for research years ago, then I would not be fortunate enough to have the medications that are available. Fifteen years ago there weren’t any. I want to continue this research both in the hope that something is discovered that benefits me, but also in the hope that if it isn’t in time for me that it will help others. I’d love to have 100 runners for our first race and raise $25,000. We are close.
How can someone get involved locally in support of MS research?
First, I would suggest people sign-up for and run the Aspen TNT! It really will take community support to help it succeed. But there are several other ways to get involved. You can volunteer with the local Colorado-Wyoming Chapter at events to raise funds like Walk MS, Bike MS, Hike MS and community events such as the Aspen TNT. You can participate in these events as well and raise funds. (Contact 800-344-4867 or call the Grand Junction office at 970-241-8975.)