Raising cancer awareness one mile at a time
Chris Calhoun nears the finish line during Sunday's Quad Cities Marathon. His son, Lawson Calhoun, nicknamed "Cowbell" during the race and Calhoun's niece, Morgan Meyer, ran with him as he completed the race.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill.- On Sept. 23, Army Contracting Command--Rock Island procurement analyst Chris Calhoun joined thousands of other runners challenging themselves during the 2012 Quad Cities Marathon.

Calhoun finished the 26.2-mile trek in 4 hours, 30 minutes, 18 seconds, which was in line with what he anticipated before the race.

"In the first half of the marathon, I was moving along pretty well and thought I was going to finish better and maybe even break 4 hours," said Calhoun. "The last half was so brutal. My body was not used to that mileage. At the 18-mile mark everything started hurting -- my feet, legs, and parts of my body that never hurt before."

Finishing the marathon has special meaning for Calhoun, who, at the beginning of September, was planning on running the half marathon. His father, Harry Calhoun, was diagnosed with prostate cancer just before Labor Day. With less than a month to go, Calhoun decided to double his mileage.

"I decided to run this marathon in honor of my father's cancer fight," he said. "The plan, originally, was to run the half, but his cancer diagnosis kind of sped up the timeline to run a marathon."

Training began this spring when one day Calhoun was climbing the stairs to the third floor of his building and found himself out of breath.

"It was a real wake-up call," said Calhoun. "Since then, I've been working out and have lost 40 pounds."

Calhoun said he prepared for the race by eating healthfully, not pushing himself too hard and doing extra stretching. The extra care he took paid off, as his recovery has been mainly stretching, soaking, icing and drinking a lot of water.

"I did see a chiro(practor) to get everything put back into place and had some massage therapy," said Calhoun.

"Overall, the chiropractor and massage therapist were both surprised what good shape I was in. They were expecting worse."

Calhoun said the support from his family was a major factor in his finish. Several members of the Calhoun family participated in the Quad Cities Marathon's sub-event, the One-Mile Walk for Prostate Cancer.

The Quad Cities Marathon supports the Quad Cities Prostate Cancer Initiative and Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education & Support Network, according to the Quad Cities Marathon website. The Quad Cities Marathon has raised more than $40,000 for education and awareness in the Quad Cities area.

"The fire inside of us was telling us we needed to do something to support this and deal with this the best way we can," said Calhoun. "There's a lot of support in the family as a way to wrap our arms around what's going on and do our part, too."

After finishing the walk, the family drove around to various areas of the course to support and cheer him on. He acknowledged what he called his awesome support group.

"My son has cuts on his hands from ringing a cowbell as I ran along and he kind of got the nickname Cowbell. Toward the end of the race, I was in the same group of people and a couple of guys just ahead of me were looking around for him saying, 'Where's Cowbell? I need him again'."

Calhoun's father and mother also made it out to the course to support their son -- they camped out at the 3-mile and 9-mile marks. Calhoun said he wants to do another marathon, and said he will definitely do the Quad Cities half-marathon, but he doesn't think he will run the full course again.

"I didn't like the last six miles of course," said Calhoun. "You run off of the Rock Island Arsenal and to the right is the finish line. However, you have to go left for three miles and then double back to the finish. Watching the people ahead of you run in to finish while you are running out is a little depressing at the end."

Page last updated Wed September 26th, 2012 at 19:16