UF scientist has run all the Five Points of Life marathons


Mark Ou stands with a photo of his mother, who he says is his inspiration for running, on Thursday in Gainesville, Fla. Ou, a marathon runner, has run in all of the Five Points of Life marathons.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.

More than three months after his mother's sudden and unexpected death, Mark Ou is still having a difficult time coping with his loss.

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Mark Ou stands with a photo of his mother, who he says is his inspiration for running, on Thursday in Gainesville, Fla. Ou, a marathon runner, has run in all of the Five Points of Life marathons.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun

Facts

RACES

What: Five Points of Life Marathon weekend.
When: Today and Sunday.
Saturday: 5K race, 8 a.m.; Kids Marathon, 9 a.m.
Sunday: Marathon and Half Marathon, 7 a.m.
Half Marathon course: 13.2-mile route loops through Gainesville and the UF campus.
Marathon course: 26.2 miles through Gainesville and the UF campus.
Prize money: $5,000 to the top finishers of the marathon and half marathon for each gender.

“I miss her every day still,” said the 42-year-old Ou, a biological scientist at the University of Florida.

Some days, some moments, are tougher and more emotional than others, he said.

Sunday morning will be one of those really emotional triggers that will pummel his heart.

It will come at the end of the Five Points of Life Marathon, when a weary Ou approaches the finish line and doesn't see his biggest fan smiling back at him and shouting words of encouragement.

Ou has run in all seven Five Points of Life Marathons — and his mother has been there cheering him on for each and every one. She won't be there this time.

“She saw all of them,” Ou said. “She would always make sure she was there at the finish line for me, cheering. She would be there to give me a smile and a hug. It was great to see her at the end of the race.

“Sometimes, she would come out on the course and run the last part with me. I'm going to really miss her.”

Ou will be running in his mother's memory Sunday — and running for a cause, one that his mother now belongs to.

After Chiu Mei Ou, 68, was killed in a car accident driving out of her neighborhood on her way to meet friends to go walking, Ou and his father made the decision to make his mother a tissue and organ donor.

This, of course, is what the Five Points of Life Marathon is all about. The race,a Boston Marathon qualifier, helps raise awareness for the five ways to share life through donations: blood, apheresis, umbilical cord blood, marrow and organ and tissues.

Ou will run the 26.2 miles Sunday with the comfort of knowing that his late mother is helping others live.

“Mostly, it was her corneas and other tissue (that were donated),” Ou said. “Hopefully, there is someone out there who has regained their eyesight thanks to her. And maybe she is helping save a life.

“It's important that people let their loved ones know if they want to donate their organs. My mother continues to live in those she made donations to.”

Ou is raising awareness by more than just running the marathon Sunday. He's also doing it with a website he recently started in honor of his mom seeking donations for the Five Points of Life Marathon: www.active.com/donate/FPOL2013/markieou. “Please help me continue her legacy by giving to our fundraising campaign and/or becoming a BLOOD DONOR or ORGAN DONOR!,” he writes on the site.

On the site, there is a picture of Ou hugging his mother after last year's race.

Ou said it was warm a year ago and he didn't run his best race. With cooler conditions expected Sunday, maybe he can top his best finish (three hours, 12 minutes) in the Five Points of Life Marathon.

Ou said his mother will be right there with him, especially for those grueling final three or four miles.

“By the end of the race, at about mile 23, your whole body and mind start getting tired,” he said. “At that point, I've always had people I've thought about that helped me through, a friend or a family member that has passed away.

“I'll be thinking about my mom. She'll help me get through it. She'll be there. She can't be there physically, but she'll be there in heart and spirit. She'll help push me to the end and make me strong.”

Ou said he will be both “happy and sad” when he finishes.

“You take the good with the bad,” he said. “The marathon is a lot like life. You only get through it one step at a time. You take it as it comes.

“Everybody starts at the same place and ends up at the same place.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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