Thanks to his parents, Larry Moss says he grew up in an very active family. He and his siblings were involved in numerous sports and activities, and, individually and collectively, they were always on the go. Baseball, gymnastics, swimming, cheerleading, track and field, waterskiing—you name it and they were doing it.
But fast-forward a few decades and he found—like many people in their late 50s—that life had gotten in the way and he wasn’t nearly as active or fit as he would have liked. When his father, Herb, passed away in 2009, Larry looked in the mirror and realized he was 40 pounds overweight and hadn’t run a step in 16 years. Motivated to celebrate his father’s life, he started running with a beginner’s group in Boulder, Colo., and, despite struggling to finish his first 25-minute easy jog, he eventually started to get fit again.
“My dad’s voice in my head was urging me to not give up and to get back in shape,” Larry says.
His siblings were impressed with the initial changes—he was losing weight and had a more chipper demeanor—and in 2011, his older sister, Cheryl Moss Reidy, suggested he visit her in San Diego and run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon while she ran the first part of the race with a relay team. They did that for three straight years and really enjoyed it—both the activity of running and the annual get-togethers. Then last year, older brother Steve flew in from Boise, Idaho, to join in, fast-walking a leg of the relay with Cheryl as Larry once again jogged alongside in the half marathon.
Regrouping at the finish line was an amazing family moment, especially because it occurred on the fifth anniversary of their father’s passing. But, sadly, less than two days after finishing the run together, their 90-year-old mother, Pat, became ill and passed away.
How did the family celebrate her life? By training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon last November and then expanding the family running ritual in June at the Rock ‘n’ roll San Diego Half Marathon in May. In addition to Larry (63), Steve (65) and Cheryl (68), little sister Jody Moss Spence (62) joined the fray in Vegas and and Jody’s daughter, Katie (30), ran with them in San Diego.
“We have had family reunions in the past, but this is something special because we’re doing it in our parents’ honor,” Cheryl says. “It’s a real tribute to them.”
At the race expo that weekend, they had a chance meeting with three-time U.S. Olympian and 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi, whom Cheryl has admired for years because of their connections to San Diego and whom Larry has become fond of as he’s gotten more engaged with running. Keflezighi has become an inspiration to the entire family because he has maintained his world-class competitiveness at age 40 and is training to make a fourth U.S. Olympic Team next year.
“Being together as a family is so important,” Keflezighi told them in San Diego. “The hard work my parents have done for me has inspired me to work hard and do the same for my family. Parents do so much for their kids and sometimes we don’t understand that or feel that until later in life.”
The Moss clan is definitely feeling it now. The get-togethers on race weekends have included family meals, lots of laughs and reminiscing and even late-night singing and piano-playing.
Larry has now run about 25 half marathons and two marathons, but he’s more excited about helping create a new tradition for the entire clan. They’re returning to Las Vegas for the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon weekend on Nov. 13-15, and 10 family members will be running or walking in the 10K or half marathon. Joining Larry, Cheryl, Steve, Jody and Katie in Las Vegas will be Cheryl’s husband, Michael Reidy, 70, and their son, daughter and son-in-law, Michael Reidy, 38, Meghan Reidy Brainard, 34, and Rob Brainard, 38, as well as Meghan’s best friend, Heather Shumway, 35. (They’ll be celebrating Meghan’s 35th birthday on Sunday night, too!)
In total, 20 family members from nine states will descend on Las Vegas to be a part of the family gathering—and it all started because Larry started running again and, of course, the impact Herb and Pat had on their children’s lives all those years ago.
“Running has been extremely empowering … it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it,” Larry says. “It’s definitely changed our lives, but it’s also brought us closer together. And we have our parents to thank for it. This is becoming a real tradition for us and it’s establishing a legacy of health and participation and togetherness for our family.”