By Phil Stacey
---- — BEVERLY — Know these two things about Paul Guanci: he likes to run, and he likes to help people.
Monday morning, he’ll be able to do both.
The 48-year-old Guanci will take part in the 117th Boston Marathon, the second time he has tackled the 26-2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston.
The City Council president in Beverly is one of 500 marathoners running to support the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. One hundred percent of all the funds raised, said Guanci, goes directly to innovative cancer research.
“Running is great because you’re only running against yourself,” he said.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Guanci first ran Boston in 2009 in memory of his good friend and former campaign manager, Kerry Xenos, who died of esophageal cancer in July 2007, as well as for a cousin who was undergoing treatment at Dana Farber (who is now cancer free). In doing so, he raised almost $11,000 for Dana Farber.
He’s hoping to at least meet, if not exceed that goal this time around; he’s already received nearly $8,500 in donations, and he’s hoping a fundraiser being held Friday night at the Italian Community Center in Beverly Friday night brings in even more for his cause.
“The customers here have been so generous,” said Guanci, the co-owner of Super Sub in the Garden City with his brother, John. “I’ve probably raised $4,000 from the tip jar on our counter alone.”
A lot of his donations have come in via Facebook; the generosity of people donating to him through the social networking site is a major boost on days where he’s had difficultly motivating himself to run. “That keeps you going,” he admitted. “You don’t want to let people down.”
He doesn’t have to think long about people to inspire him, either. Friends and former customers such as Diane Parisella, Alice Lombardi, Barbara St. Peter and Nancy Rice, in addition to Xenos, are always in his thoughts. So is someone who has been waging a war with non-Hodgkins lymphoma for almost two-and-a-half years — and winning: Beverly High head hockey coach Bob Gilligan.
“He’s one of the nicest guys in the world; you couldn’t meet a more positive, outgoing guy,” Guanci said of Gilligan. “Bobby is inspiration enough for anyone.”
Like many marathoners trying to fit training around an already packed home and work life, Guanci — the father of Anna (17), Noah (7) and Julia (5) — makes the most of the time he has. He runs alone, without headphones, just he and the steady sound of his feet continually hitting the pavement (or treadmill).
“My wife (Kristin) has been great,” Guanci said. “It’s not easy to spend the time that you’d like to with your family and run a business when you have to get out there and train. She’s been terrific in allowing me to find the time to do it.”
On Mondays and Wednesdays, Guanci will run inside (It’s easier on the treadmill when you have young kids,” he said). Tuesdays are his long run days, when he gets outside and generally goes 10-12 miles; he ran 18 1/2 miles two weeks ago in a little less than 2 hours and 45 minutes. Thursdays is another 10-12 miles outdoors, followed by six miles on Fridays and another 7 or 8 miles on each of the weekend days when he can.
Friday night’s fundraiser at the ICC, said Guanci, is a way not only to help raise more funds, but also awareness about Dana Farber. Local comedian Dave Rattigan and some of Boston’s best comedians will highlight this comedy extravaganza, which will also feature food from Super Sub, chance drawings and silent sports auction, with items including autographed and framed photos of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, a 2011 Stanley Cup photo of the Bruins’ Tyler Seguin, a Jason Varitek 2004 World Series photo and other Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup autographed items, as well as those from the Celtics, Red Sox and Patriots.
Come Monday morning, Guanci will be on a bus with members of the Wicked Running Club in Salem at 6 a.m. bound for Hopkinton. He’ll have his black compression socks on, go to the church that Dana Farber rents out for its runners before the race for food, drinks and medical supplies, then be ready to go when the third wave of runners kicks off at 10:40 a.m.
“I’m looking forward to the solitude of 4 1/2 hours running alone by myself,” he said. “It’s a great way to clear your head and not think about work and other daily stresses. Once you’re out there running, that’s all you want to do.”
Four years ago during his inaugural Boston run, Guanci got hurt, was taped up at a fire truck along the route and didn’t finish as well as he’d like to. This time, he’d like to finish in under four-and-a-half hours.
“I can honestly say this will be it for me,” said Guanci. “I’m going to be 50 next year and I don’t have a runner’s built ... and I never will. The time it takes to train with a young family and having a business is too much.
“I want to go out Monday, run my race and know that I was able to raise some money for a great cause.”
Tickets for Friday night’s comedy event/fundraiser at the Italian Community Center in Beverly to support Guanci’s Dana Farber fundraising efforts can be purchased for $30 at Super Sub, or $35 at the ICC Friday. night.