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By Brian Bergner Jr.

Larson Newspapers

When Sedona residents Joe Fuss and Sherry Christoff crossed the finish line last year at the third annual Sedona Marathon, they may have been together at that moment but the pair certainly followed two different trails of bread crumbs to arrive there.

Fuss, a 31-year-old father of two, is a two-time Sedona Marathon winner. He won in 2007 and used a 3:02:45 time to win the race in 2008, nearly three minutes ahead of anyone else.

This year however, Fuss will only run the half marathon.

“I got sick in January and then caught a nasty case of bronchitis which went up to my ear,” Fuss said.

The illness cost Fuss nearly three weeks or more of training for the full marathon.

A Minnesota native, Fuss ran cross country in middle school, high school, then in college at Jamestown University in North Dakota.

“Running is my passion. It is a gift from God and I will use my ability and the talent he has given me for good,” Fuss said.

He continued his love for running, biking and anything else which required physical activity when he moved to the Sedona area in 2003 and took a teaching job at Sedona Red Rock High.

As a pre-algebra, algebra and college algebra teacher, Fuss was also able to help coach the Scorpion cross country team, as well as helping to start the program.

In 2007, Fuss decided it was time to become a stay-at-home dad when his beautiful wife Amy had their first baby, Nora. About five months ago, Amy had another baby, Miles.

With two little munchkins at home, Fuss still finds time to train for the marathon, amazingly.

Christoff, a 47-year-old Sedona resident since 2005, hasn’t exactly been running her entire life, starting at the age of 29.

“I first did it to lose some weight but then I started to like it and kept on going. Before I knew it I was running marathons. This is my life passion,” Christoff said.

Christoff started running in 1991 then ran her first marathon in 1994 in the Hartford Marathon while still living in Connecticut.

She ran enough to eventually compete in the Boston Marathon, one of the biggest events in the world every year.

Christoff continued to run competitively for 10 years, training every day and running enough marathons to make anyone’s head begin to spin.

Last year, Christoff was the first woman to cross the finish line at the Sedona Marathon, finishing fourth overall with a 3:09:09 time, beating out almost all of her male counterparts.

This year, Christoff, like Fuss, will only run the half marathon due to a few injuries she suffered over the summer of 2008.

“I know it’s going to be really tough when the race begins for the full marathon and I won’t be able to go but once that passes, I’ll be OK,” Christoff said.

Christoff has found a new outlet which closely resembles running on her own and that is helping people prepare themselves for a marathon run.

“I won’t be racing on Saturday, I’ll be pacing with a good friend of mine and helping her through,” Christoff said.

Meeting once again nearly a year later on Wednesday, Feb. 4, Fuss and Christoff took no time at all to talk running.

Discussions of techniques, tips and how to’s were the word of the hour before their photo shoot, sparking a conversation that probably won’t end on Wednesday.

Like a brother and sister or long-lost friends, the two shared stories of running and other marathon secrets and then like the dust carried in the wind, they vanished into their vehicle of choice, off to get their minds right for the task at hand on Saturday.


Brian Bergner Jr. can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 131, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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