Native Duluthian, Runs Marathons, Battles Cancer

Posted at: 09/27/2013 3:27 PM | Updated at: 09/27/2013 8:48 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

Many people can't even imagine running one marathon, but what about 100? That's what one native Duluthian is trying to do while also surviving cancer at 72 years old.

Don Wright's first marathon was Grandma's, a race he returns home for every chance he gets, but this Sunday he will run marathon #74. He has run all his marathons in just 10 years.

"I was a runner in high school for a while, then I dropped out of running in favor girls," said Wright with a smile.

Wright's passion for running came a little later in life, and at 62 years old he ran his first marathon in his hometown.

A mile from the finish line Wright, who is a Duluth East graduate, says he started second guessing himself, but that didn't last long.

"At that point the sun was shining, it was warm, I was hot and tired, and I thought ,'why on earth would anybody ever do this twice.' But as soon as I crossed the finish line I knew that I would do it again," Wright said.

He was hooked and set his sights on qualifying for Boston. But two weeks later, Wright was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that breaks bones.

"No doctor would ever say, 'you're going to live five years' but that's what the conventional wisdom was at that time," he said.

That was ten years ago. His medication, Pomalyst, is a pill he takes each night and it keeps the cancer stable.

But even after the diagnosis, Wright kept running, qualifying for Boston and not stopping. Wright, his wife, and daughter traveled the country over 10 years running marathons, including eight more Grandma's, and marathons in New York City, Washington D.C., and Providence, R.I.

"It was an unrealistic goal to finish all 50 states before the myeloma got me," Wright said.

This December he reached his 50th state, Hawaii. Now he has a new goal to run 100 marathons.

"And I won't stop there if I get there," said Wright.

Wright is running with a goal but also for a cause, he runs for Team Continuum to raise money for cancer patients and their families' everyday expenses. Wright said it's his way of running with cancer, instead of from cancer.

"It's something that keeps me going, that, and just the fact that the family and I love to run," he said.

Wright's 74th marathon is this Sunday in Half Moon Bay, California.

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