MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--eRace Cancer, an online campaign to educate patients about advances and innovations in cancer treatments, today said 76-year-old marathoner Don Wright has a new goal: He wants to try to qualify for track and field events at the National Senior Games. Don entered the 100, 200, and 400 meter sprint distances at the USA Track & Field Masters Outdoor Championships on June 11th in St. Paul, Minnesota. The next National Senior Games will take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2019, giving Don two years to get up to speed.
“I've never competed in an outdoor track & field meet before, and I loved it,” said Don after the June 11th races. “I finished last in all three of my races, but that sets a baseline for me to build on and improve.”
Don began running marathons around the time when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of cells in the bone marrow. At the time, the prognosis was just three to five years survival. After running one marathon, Don decided to try to qualify for the famed Boston Marathon and then just kept running, completing 100 marathons with cancer in November 2016.
“It was a family affair,” says Ardis Wright, Don’s wife of 54 years. “We did not know how much time we had left, so our daughter, Sarah, and I began traveling with Don and running many races ourselves. We loved those times together.”
Don tried several therapies and then entered a clinical trial for a new oral drug, taken by mouth, to treat his cancer. It not only held the myeloma in check, but not being tethered to an IV pole, left Don free to run around the country.
Don adds, “When we completed at least one marathon in all 50 states in 2012 we helped create eRace Cancer to let other patients know that cancer treatments aren’t always ‘your grandfather’s chemotherapy.’ As I said at the time, ‘Here I am with cancer and my biggest complaint is runner's knee.’”
More recently Don had to add a second medication to his regimen. Neither treatment was available when he was first diagnosed, so Don expanded his message to support continuing medical, medical innovation and clinical trials for newer treatments. Now he wants to continue running, but after 100 marathons, what’s left?
“As a kid I was one of the fastest on my block and even in my 60’s I was fast. I’d like to return to my running roots with a race measured in minutes and seconds instead of hours.”
Don works with a trainer because as a cancer patient he has special considerations. With cancer in the bone marrow, for instance, it’s risky to bolt out of the starting blocks. He also has to pace his training, taking what is usually a one-month program and stretching it out over three months. Like Don, everyone just starting a new exercise program should check with his or her physicians first.
So far in 2017 Don has run a 10k in Phoenix and a 5k in Philadelphia in addition to two races in Minneapolis and the sprints in St. Paul. As one supporter recently told eRace Cancer, “As a 76-old, 14 year cancer survivor, Don comes in at first place every single time.”