DENVER — At first glance, it looks just like any other running group.
“On Saturday we meet up once a week for three to four miles,” says Colin Ferro. “We’re doing some stretching, some training.”
But the roots for these runners run much deeper.
“We’ve all been through something that is life-changing,” says Mary Walinchus. “I was diagnosed with stage three sarcoma in 2010.”
“My original diagnosis was in 2003,” explains Tiffany Wolf. “I was diagnosed with stage two melanoma. I was 22 years old. I did fine, had surgery, and that was the end of my story for seven years until it came back in 2011.”
Some of these runners are survivors, others like Ferro, are family members of survivors. But they all share an understanding of what the person running beside them has been through.
“I went through many surgeries, many treatments, radiation,” says Wolf. “I was the one at the end of my rope at that point, and that’s when Epic came into my life.”
Epic Experience is based in Colorado and offers camps that help adult cancer survivors enjoy the outdoors, from cross country skiing to white water rafting. They’ve also put together teams to run the relay at the upcoming Colfax Marathon.
“We’re all about getting outside, getting active with a community that understands,” says Ferro, who works as the Director of Operations for Epic Experience. “It’s been amazing to get that community together with people that understand.”
“It’s very therapeutic, whether it’s walking, running, jogging, or just being out in nature,” Walinchus says of the group training, which she coaches. “The journey to the race is more important than the race itself.”
While some people may dread the long miles, these athletes are grateful for every breath and every step along the way.
“That was the hardest part was that I couldn’t run for part of it, and the getting back to it was a big deal,” says Wolf. “I love being able to come together, even in our small group, and that we’re coming outside to train. This is my happy place.”