Running a marathon is impressive enough. But winning a marathon while pushing your daughter in a stroller and coping with your own terminal brain cancer? That’s superhuman. That’s Iram Leon.
As though it were scripted for an inspirational sports flick, Leon, 32, who has been diagnosed with a grade two diffuse astrocytoma, crossed the finish line first at the Gusher Marathon, his 6-year-old daughter, Kiana, in tow. With a running time of 3 hours, 7 minutes, and 35 seconds, Leon is clearly a skilled runner, not even considering his hinderances.
Leon was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after turning 30 and doctors are hoping he’ll live to see 40. The cancer excludes him from many everyday activities, like driving or working. Though he cannot participate in contact sports, he can run, and run he does. Despite his diagnosis, Leon has not abandoned his running hobby. He even called off a brain cancer surgery so he could participate in the Livestrong Marathon in 2011.
While constantly faced with his own mortality, Leon’s priority is to spend as much time with his daughter as possible.
The one thing I’m not going to say on my death bed is, ‘I wish I spent more time with my kid,'” he said.
Leon is divorced from Kiana’s Mom, and the 6-year-old spends most of the year with her dad. Kiana is not sheltered from her father’s illness, even though he struggles with finding the balance between being honest and being alarming.
Kiana is enthusiastic about participating in her father’s races, seen above with her own rendering of the marathon. As the two crossed the finish line, she shouted “We won!” Dad credits his girl as his inspiration and the technical winner of the marathon, “Here sore, reflecting and grateful, I still can’t believe that I won a marathon. Well, I came in second behind Kiana,” he wrote on his blog. He put the medal around Kiana’s neck at the awards ceremony.
Few races allow runners to push a stroller, and the father-daughter duo were turned down by four other marathons before the Beaumont, Texas race agreed to let them participate. The day of the race was not smooth, either. As Leon recounts on his blog entry about the day, he had to replace a flat stroller tire moments before the race. Eleven mile an hour winds and shoes that wouldn’t stay tied also threw Leon off. But nothing was enough to keep Leon and his daughter from the sweetest victory on record.