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Last year, hundreds of people came together in Elizabeth City to participate in Run With Mary, a 5K family friendly road race honoring Mary Morrison Gillam. This year, Mary’s family aims to draw an even larger crowd to the second annual run held on May 11, 2024 with the goal of raising funds to support UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center where she received treatment.

Run With Mary 2023 Run
Photo Courtesy of Kayre Meyer

Gillam, a wife, a mother of three young children, a daughter, a sister, and a dear friend to countless others, passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2022. She was a dedicated marathon runner, and her family and friends created Run With Mary as a way to honor her passion for the sport and raise money to find a cure for the aggressive and difficult to treat disease.

Held in Elizabeth City on a course shared with the U.S. Coast Guard Marathon, the family friendly event welcomes both competitive runners and participants who prefer to walk, all joining together to honor Mary’s life. The inaugural year of the race raised $37,000 for UNC Lineberger, and the family hopes to surpass $50,000 in the second year.

This year’s event also features professional timekeeper Run the East, which will track runners’ times using RFID technology. This allows runners to view their official time and pace online and receive a certificate recording their official results.

A native of Camden County, Mary was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer five years before her death at the age of 43. She ran daily, even after being diagnosed. She told family to not call her experience a battle against the disease because, “It was never a fair fight. If it had been I would have won.”

Wanting to help “make the fight fair” for future patients, Mary’s family along with community members, local businesses, and their church, Christ Episcopal Church, came together to sponsor Run With Mary. They were delighted and overwhelmed by the support they received in the first year and hope that the annual event will continue to grow.

Registration is open until the day of the race at


Mary Morrison Gillam speaking at the UNC Surgical Tower