The top time in 2018 in the famed New York City marathon – which drew 53,000 contenders – was 2 hours, 22 minutes and 48 seconds … But there was no bigger champion than Forest Hills, N.Y.-resident Alan Kaufman, one of the very last to cross the finish line in 10 hours, 5 minutes and 6 seconds.
Diagnosed with stage-four metastatic melanoma brain and lung cancer in 2017, he missed the marathon that year for the first time since in 25 years. But with treatment going well by 2018, although not in remission, he decided to train for his 25th race by taking long walks.
“When I got sick, the first thing I asked my brain surgeon is, ‘Will I do a marathon again?’” says, Alan. “To me, the marathon is the greatest moving party on the planet. There’s no better day in New York than Marathon Sunday. My oncologist and neurologist were thrilled. My nurses were impressed,” he laughs about the professionals who oversee his treatment and bi-weekly immunotherapy infusion treatments.
Since an 11-hour surgery to remove tumors in his brain has impaired his balance, Alan walked the race, utilizing hiking poles and accompanied by two guides from Achilles International, a nonprofit that provides disabled athletes with a community of support, including guides for marathons—A charity Alan has supported as a guide in the past, shepherding 13 blind runners over the years.
“People are frightened of cancer and don’t know how to react. But running in the marathon says, ‘Hey guys I’m still here. I’m still fighting. Don’t worry so much.’ We are living in a time where cancer is not the immediate death threat it once was. There’s medicine out there and the technology has changed. You can’t give up or stop living your life. There’s always hope and possibility. It’s actually very life affirming.”