Next Stop in Cancer Survivor’s Quest to Run the World: Austin

6-time cancer survivor chooses Austin for North American stop in quest to run the world

Jonathan Acott is no stranger to cancer. In fact, he’s more familiar with it than any one person should be. He’s been diagnosed six times. Throughout everything, running has been a constant for Jonathan. He runs to celebrate his body, honor those who’ve lost their battle, and because he can. What does one do in Jonathan’s shoes? Continue to run! Image of Jonathan Acott in a hospital bed fighting one of his six diagnosed cancers. Read about his journey to run the world and how the Austin Marathon is next!Read about Jonathan’s plans to run the world and complete a marathon on all 7 continents. Follow him on Instagram, learn about the two continents he crossed off his list, and why his North American goal is the 2021 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon!

The reasons I run

Since 2004 I’ve heard “I’m afraid it’s cancer” or something similar six times. I was 29 in 2004 and am now 44. For a third of my life, I’ve lived with this vile and insidious disease. It has robbed me of sleep, health, life, mental well-being, a career, testicle, spleen, and kidney. Who knows what else I will miss out on. 

It’s like persistent hunting, only I’m the prey. I’m aware cancer might end my life prematurely. It could catch me, but I am going to do all I can to stay ahead of it for as long as possible. In the meantime, I will extract every ounce from life possible. 

I run because I still need a sense of movement. Running provides the illusion of control in an otherwise unpredictable world. A world where I need to do something, anything related to physical activity to distance myself from the days, weeks, and months of forced inactivity. It’s the repetition, the therapy that comes from being alone in my thoughts. Running stills the anxiety. It’s a celebration of what my body is capable of after all it has endured. I run to honor all the people who have been less fortunate than me. I run because I can.  

Image of Jonathan Acott in a pool showing off his medal from the Marrakesh Marathon. Read about his journey to run the world and how the Austin Marathon is next!So, I’m going to travel and see the world, I’ll visit locations I wouldn’t normally visit or places on my bucket list. I will run, not fast, but I will run. My plan is to live life and run whilst I do. As long as I’m moving, I’m alive and whilst it may not add years to this particular life it does add life to my years.  

What am I going to do? Well, I put it all together and thought I’m going to run the world. Six cancers. Seven continents. One marathon on each continent.  

The first marathon of my quest was at the end of 2019 in Berlin (Europe). My second marathon was in Marrakech (Africa) at the start of 2020. Next on my list: North America. I looked at numerous marathons, but Austin has been on my bucket list for years. Running the streets of Austin in 2021 was an opportunity too good to pass up. So you’ll see me there on Feb. 14, 2021. I’ll be near the back, smiling all the way, stopping to take photographs, and high fiving everyone because when you know what you could lose you make the most of every opportunity.

The Life-Changing Impact of Running

Life-changing journey brought runner to the streets of Austin

Running is life-changing. That is undeniable. It impacts runners of all shapes, sizes, and speeds. Running’s positive effects can be felt in veteran runners and newbies. It impacts everyone differently. For Jose Antonio Santiago, it all began with trying to complete 100 meters. It wasn’t easy, but it took him on a life-changing journey. Learn how that 100-meter run brought him to the streets of Austin and introduced him to his favorite marathon, the Austin Marathon.

From 100 meters to the Austin Marathon

Jose Antonio Santiago poses at the 2019 Austin Marathon finish line with a Mexican flag. His life-changing journey began when he started running nine years ago.

Jose Antonio Santiago poses at the 2019 Austin Marathon finish line.

It all started nine years ago, trying to run 100 meters continuously. I found it difficult. After I did that I increased the distance to 200 meters. Six months later I ran my first 5K. After crossing my first finish line, I felt an emotion so strong that my life changed completely. Running is life-changing. In the following weeks, I ran my first 10K. Two years after I began running I completed my first marathon in Monterrey, Mexico, where I live. I crossed the finish line in 5:01. 

Austin Marathon love

I went to Chicago in 2018 and ran the marathon in 4:16, a 45-minute improvement. My most recent marathon was the 2019 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Everything allowed me to experience the city of Austin in a different way, the course, the people, the State Capitol, the finish line festival. I’m excited to return to Austin and run my favorite marathon on February 16th! One reason I love my annual visit is I get to soak up all of Austin while running the Austin Marathon.

My Running Story is a series of blog submissions from runners just like yourself. They submitted their inspirational running stories as part of a contest to win an entry of their choice to the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Their stories range from crossing their first finish line to drastic lifestyle change due to running. Everyone’s story is different and unique, impacting them in a specific way. While each story is specific to the author, everyone can resonate in some form or fashion because of the power of running. Other My Running Story submissions include Kayleigh Williamson, Kirsten Pasha, Michael Coffey, Samantha Santos, Tom Hamann, Erica Richart, Angela Clark, Rebecca Galvan, Jeremy Tavares, Axel Reissnecker, Blair Nagel, Brittany Drennan, Rene Arguello, Christy Thomas, and Shawn Livingston.

Running’s Positive Impact Turned Around this Addict’s Life

Former veteran uses running’s positive impact to help others

The positive impact running has on people is widespread and far-ranging. Runners of all speeds and abilities have bettered their health, become better role models for their kids, and uprooted stigmas set by society. Shawn Livingston uses running’s positive impact to make up for lost time. Learn how he went from hitting rock bottom to being featured in a documentary and giving hope to those living the life he used to live in his edition of My Running Story. Experience running’s positive impact firsthand and join Shawn at the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon!

What running has done for me

Shawn Livingston crosses the finish line of the 2019 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. His edition of My Running Story talks about the positive impact running has had on his life.

Shawn Livingston crosses the finish line of the 2019 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon.

Running has had a positive impact in every single aspect of my life. It has become the best medicine I could ever hope to find for both my physical and mental health. It’s also introduced me to a community the likes of which I have never seen before. The friends I have shared and endured so many miles with has left a bond that will last for life. Most importantly, running has given me the ability to help others.

As a combat veteran of the US Army, I lost my way once departing the service. I was plagued by symptoms of PTSD, the loss of close friends, injuries that led to opiate addiction, and legal trouble. I hit rock bottom. Eventually, I discovered running. It’s positive impact completely transformed my life. 

Woke the Monster

Andrew Shebay, with Pipeline Films, began filming a documentary called Woke the Monster (trailer below) a year ago. He just wrapped up production. This documentary would tell my story and highlight running’s positive impact. That film would provide a platform and show me I had the ability to help others by using my experiences. This would allow me to show individuals similar to me what’s possible. Addicts who still suffer, their families, and the rest of the world can see that people can change. They can accomplish feats beyond their wildest dreams. However, those who’ve led a life similar to mine often can’t change on their own. They need a pacer in the marathon of life. Someone with the ability to help inspire and motivate them to the finish line. 

The positive impact of running

I’ve started a movement, Be Somebody’s Pacer, so people can use their experiences in life to help others who are having similar troubles. If those of us who have suffered hardships and persevered aren’t using our experiences to educate others, then, in my opinion, it was all a waste. The ability to help others has become the most rewarding part of my life. If it wasn’t for running I would have never discovered that I had this special ability to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Follow my journey and stay up-to-date with Woke the Monster on Instagram.

My Running Story is a series of blog submissions from runners just like yourself. They submitted their inspirational running stories as part of a contest to win an entry of their choice to the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Their stories range from crossing their first finish line to drastic lifestyle change due to running. Everyone’s story is different and unique, impacting them in a specific way. While each story is specific to the author, everyone can resonate in some form or fashion because of the power of running. Other My Running Story submissions include Kayleigh Williamson, Kirsten Pasha, Michael Coffey, Samantha Santos, Tom Hamann, Erica Richart, Angela Clark, Rebecca Galvan, Jeremy Tavares, Axel Reissnecker, Blair Nagel, Brittany Drennan, Rene Arguello, and Christy Thomas.