Issie's Quest: 60 Marathons by Age 60

Published: April 28th 2010
in News » Local

Issie Pelc at finish line, Jackson, Mississippi, Jan 2008
Pic: courtesy of Issie Pelc
Pelc with Styx vocalist Gowan at "Yes We Can Fundraising Dinner"
Pic: courtesy of Issie Pelc
Pelc runs Quebec city marathon, Aug 2008
Pic: courtesy of Issie Pelc

Issie Pelc began running rather late in life.


It was initially part of a plan to improve his overall fitness, and get back into shape, but he quickly moved on from running a 10k in 1998 to a half marathon a few months later, ultimately running his first full marathon in 1999. Pelc has been hooked on running ever since.


Seven years ago, Pelc’s wife Shelley was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In 2006, just two years into her own battle with cancer, Pelc was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Pelc had been a runner for a number of years already by this point, having been training for the Boston marathon at the time of his diagnosis. “In that time period I became a pretty avid runner, doing all kinds of marathons, and participating in relay races with my running group,” says Pelc. “I ended up running Boston [marathon] before starting treatment, which I began in May 2006.”


Pelc’s treatment consisted of six rounds of chemotherapy which lasted 18 weeks, followed by a month of radiation treatment – five days a week for four weeks, totaling 20 blasts of radiation. He finished his treatment in the fall of 2006, and was fortunate enough to continue running throughout the course of his treatment.


To qualify for the Boston marathon is no small task. “You have to run a marathon somewhere else first, within a specific time period,” says Pelc. “It’s a sliding scale based on age and gender. By fall of 2005, I had run four marathons that qualified me for the 2006 Boston marathon.”


After successfully completing the 2006 Boston Marathon, Pelc decided he would train the following year for the 2007 Boston Marathon. “My qualifier was still valid from the previous Boston run,” Pelc explains, as a qualifying race deems one eligible to run Boston for 18 months.


Thus, another Boston Marathon was successfully completed. “A bunch of people I run with were planning to run in Mississauga of May that year, so I decided to join them.”


It was then that Pelc got the idea that he would run the amount of marathons equal to his age, which meant a marathon a month from that point on. “Along with the running goal, I thought I could combine it with some sort of fundraising, and it was logical to fundraise for cancer research since both myself and Shelley are survivors,” says Pelc.


Thus, “Issie’s Quest” was born, an effort to run 60 marathons by Pelc’s 60th birthday, while raising funds and awareness for ovarian cancer. And indeed, Pelc has garnered awareness everywhere he’s run. “I signed up to run a marathon in November of 2006, a few weeks after finishing my treatment – From Marathon to Athens, in Greece,” says Pelc. “Shelley and I combined this with a holiday, as a celebration of successfully completing my treatment, and also as a test to see that I could actually do it.”


Currently, Shelley is in the midst of battling her second recurrence of ovarian cancer. She has undergone several clinical trials for Princess Margaret Hospital, and has just begun a new trial. Right now, her cancer in under control.


Related articles: (cancer research, fundraising, ovarian cancer, cancer, styx, gowan, issie pelc, marathon, princess margaret)
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