II caught up with the amazing, fleet-footed Iram Leon this morning.
The Austin athlete, who won the Beaumont Marathon two years ago while pushing his daughter in a stroller, just
returned from Boston, where he finished the country’s most prestigious 26.2-miler in just over 3 hours 10 minutes on a cold, windy, rainy day.
Did I mention Leon has brain cancer?
I loved hearing about his race. Leon always races without a shirt, but admits he got a little cold this time. With temperatures in the 40s and dropping as the race went on, he had to warm up with broth and blankets for an hour in the medical tent at the finish line.
He missed qualifying for next year’s race by just 37 seconds.
That may have been because he slowed to kiss a random bystander at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill at Mile 20. “No way I was going to get my heart broken if I got kissed right before going up Heartbreak Hill,” he says, shrugging.
Leon says Boston is like no other marathon. People line the streets the entire way, encouraging the runners. “You get cheered more in one mile of Boston than the entirety of any other marathon,” he says. “There are
no lonely spots in Boston.”
Healthwise, Leon, 34, says he’s doing as well as can be expected, for now. He was diagnosed in 2010 with astrocytoma, a type of tumor entwined in the memory and language hub of his brain. Statistically, he is unlikely to see his 40th birthday. At his most recent checkup in March doctors told him the tumor is stable. His next MRI will take place in June.
For now, though, he’s embracing life. A single father, he and his 8-year-old daughter Kiana are fixtures at races around town. He trains with the running group Al’s Ship of Fools and ESPN is working on a short story about him that should air this summer.