With temperatures hovering around 40 degrees, rain coming down, lightning flashing, and a strong north wind blowing about 30 mph, Student Foundation leaders had to make the difficult decision to cancel Saturday’s Bearathon. But that didn’t keep a hardy group of about 50 competitors from running the race — led by senior Matt Ison (pictured at right from last year’s race).
As a non-athlete, it boggles my mind to think about anyone running a half marathon at all — much less one in brutal weather with no support, no official timing and no prizes. But here’s the real kicker: Ison — last year’s winner of the Bearathon’s student division — did all this just months after a medical ordeal that left him wondering if he’d even survive.
Last August, he underwent exploratory abdominal surgery to see if cancer from five years ago had returned. The good news? The cancer was gone. The bad news? Complications from the procedure led to Ison spending 21 days in the hospital, including 10 days of constant stomach pumping, and losing 40 pounds. By the end, his prayer was simply to one day, be able to run and bike again. Not to be good at it — just to be able to pretend he was competing. Saturday, he got that chance.
Ison’s account of his run is mesmerizing (click here to read it), from his encounter with a not-so-friendly dog to the Student Foundation members tearing down the race course who ended up cheering him on. In the end, despite all he’d overcome and all the obstacles of an unofficial race, Ison ended up clocking a time of 1:14:39 — five minutes better than his division-winning time of a year ago. What an inspiration!
Sic ’em, Matt!