Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fighting Cancer, Gammon Style

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2 years ago during the Voyageur 50 Mile trail run, Carl Gammon took a fall. He crashed hard in the mud and hurt his shoulder. He was covered in mud, and proceeded to take a bath in a river. This picture captures him in a cleaned up state.

But Carl got back up and finished the race. Got up, brushed himself off, and kept going.

Those who know Carl were not surprised. Carl knows how to get up when everybody is saying stay down for a while.

When I first started running with Carl, I learned a story of him beating Prostate Cancer and defying his Doctor's orders by running the Twin Cities Marathon the same year of his surgery. To Carl it is not about showing off, it is about representing and not missing a beat.

Carl is a sort of legend in the Ultra world. He is a member of HURT, owns a coveted yellow shirt from it (shown in the picture), and has one heck of a resume. His 50k PR I believe is just over 4 hours.

I love this picture becaue it captures the essence of friendship. Zach is on the left, and I am on the right. The 3 of us have run countless miles together out at Afton in the worst and best conditions. We have shared countless stories and traveled to races together. Seeing Carl roll into the finish looking like this was priceless.

I received in email mid winter this from Carl which brought tears to my eyes. His cancer was coming back. This hit way too close to home as my mom battled (and beat) breast cancer when I was young. When she had to go through radiation treatments, it scared the hell out of us. It was the only thing I have seen bring my father to tears.

Now Carl was staring it in the face again. Radiation was coming back.

Never once have I heard Carl complain about his performance in a race, his training, or life in general. He headed this on... head on.

He kept us posted about his radiation progress, and how soon he would be done.

Carl finished his radiation treatments, and 10 days later toes the line at the FANS 24 hour timed race.

Talk about getting up and brushing yourself off... Carl brought a new level of awesomeness to the metaphor.

Now he admits he struggled that day and didn't rack up many miles... more than I would have. He showed up alive and kicking.

I guess the big man up above has a lot of plans for Carl on this earth.

So when you think life is hard, things are tough, and you want to piss and moan.... take a page out of the Gammon book. Get your ass up, brush yourself off, and get running.

Carl, you are an inspiration to us all.


Runnin-From-The-Law said...

Wow. Kudos to Carl. Inspirational.

Anonymous said...

Nicely written. And very accurate. Carl is a friend and an inspiration. And I've never seen the guy without a smile on his face...ever. Bill P.

Chris Swenke said...

The comment above about Carl always having a smile on his face is very accurate. I've pumped into Carl a couple times out at Afton and is always willing to let me tag along.

I'm looking forward to many more encounters.

SteveQ said...

Carl has the unusual ability to make me laugh at the lamest of jokes (which he has quite a store of!), making his positive attitude infectious. If you ever want to see him at his best, though, you have to see him around his daughters; he's agreat family man on top of it all.

Zach said...

Well said!

Let's see, 2 out of 3 people in that picture are signed up for Voyageur this year... ;)

Chad W said...

That's awesome, Carl! Carl's fortunate to have friends like you, and we're all fortunate to take a lesson from the Gammon playbook.

Double said...

I finally created a blog:

How far to the barn?

Wayne said...

Nice write-up, Matt. And way to go, Carl... you are an inspiration!