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Love for Running Transcends Stage IV Cancer Diagnosis

Not even Stage IV cancer can extinguish Axel’s love for running

Runners often credit running for helping them through tough times. Having a bad day? Go for a run? Stress at work? Log some miles on the trail? Frustrating situation? Visit the track for speed work. Axel Reissnecker’s story is the exact same. His love for running is unquestioned and the foundation upon which he relied after his cancer diagnosis. Read Axel’s edition of My Running Story and learn why he’s returning to an old tradition after defeating Stage IV kidney cancer.

Axel Reissnecker and his family celebrate after finishing the 2007 Cap10K. His love for running helped him defeat Stage IV cancer.

Axel and his family (left to right – son Sven, wife Karin, daughter Anja, son Felix) after Cap10K. Credit – Alex Reissnecker

Love for running turns into a tradition

Hi, I’m Axel Reissnecker. I’ve always had a love for running, though I didn’t start participating in races until I turned 44. After my first 10K in the fall of 1997, I quickly ramped up and ran my first marathon in Austin in 1998. This became a kind of tradition with 10 consecutive Austin Marathons from 1998 until 2007. Another annual tradition for me is running the Cap 10K in a costume. I even won first place twice in the costume contest! Eventually, after years of running road races, I switched to the “dark side,” aka trail running. I started running even longer distances, up to 100 miles.

In 2012, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer, Stage IV, which meant the cancer had already spread. I began chemo after the removal of my left kidney and the secondary tumor in my sinuses. However, this did not stop me from running. Less than four weeks after kidney surgery I was back on the trail and speed-hiking a 50-mile race.

The running tradition returns

Seven years later, at age 66, I am much slower than I used to be. This is also partially due to the side effects of the chemo. I also somewhat cut down on long-distance running. Nevertheless, I still like to run. It clears my mind and keeps me relaxed, balanced, and always in a good mood. Running also comes with a lot of health benefits. For example, it helps keep my blood pressure under control without taking meds. Rain or shine, there is nothing like being outdoors and enjoying a good run.

By the way, in 2017 I decided to return to the annual tradition of running the Austin Marathon. So, when you see an old geezer huffing’ and puffin’ towards the finish line on Congress Avenue on February 16, 2020, that might be yours truly!

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, and Jeremy Tavares.

Frank Scalet is Always at the End of the Austin Marathon

Read about Frank Scalet’s race-day contributions as a volunteer

Every year, thousands of volunteers support the Austin Marathon in various roles. They are amazing individuals who selflessly give their time and energy in support of others and their goals. They’re up early and they stay late. These volunteers are a vital reason why the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon is one of the best running events in the world. We’re proud to highlight Frank Scalet, one of those amazing volunteers. 

Frank Scalet's race-day radio for the 2019 Austin Marathon.

Frank has his own radio so he can communicate with others.

Frank Scalet has volunteered for the Austin Marathon for four years. He mainly drives the SAG truck, but has also driven the press truck. The SAG truck is at the end of the marathon and the press truck is at the beginning. Talk about two different roles! The SAG driver drives with the end-of-the-race convoy. This group includes race officials, Austin Police Department, the barrier company, and trash/recycling/compost pick up. Their goals are to re-open traffic as soon as possible and to leave the Austin Marathon and half marathon course in better condition than earlier in the morning.

Frank the SAG driver

Frank Scalet enjoys being SAG driver the most because he’s helping athletes pushing themselves to get through a new challenge. Another favorite part of volunteering for Frank is helping people running 26.2 miles for the first time. It’s easier for the veterans and experienced runners. He truly enjoys supporting those runners that are out there for hours, running in honor of someone.

Frank has been a volunteer for the LIVESTRONG Challenge (14 years), Ride for the Roses (five years), LIVESTRONG Survivor Run (three years), and Cap10K for (three years). He has held various roles at these events, including SAG driver and bike lead.

Join Frank Scalet on February 16, 2020! Check out the available positions if you, your company, or your group are interested in volunteering at the 2020 Austin Marathon. Volunteers are provided breakfast tacos, coffee, snack, and drinks. They also get a sweet Under Armour volunteer shirt and to be a part of Austin’s premier running event!

Self-Imposed Challenge Accepted

If he can do that, so can I; self-imposed challenge accepted

Michael ran the 2017 Cap10K after he accepted his self-imposed challenge.

Michael ran the 2017 Cap10K after he accepted his self-imposed challenge.

Michael Coffey was a cyclist. He self-admittedly didn’t consider himself a runner, even though he ran to cross-train. His story of how he became a runner is next on our My Running Story series. Coffey started out like most runners, talking with someone else about running. He believed in himself and next thing you know… self-imposed challenge accepted. Read how Coffey went from a 10K to the start line of the 2018 Austin Marathon

Not really a “runner”

My name is Michael. I never really considered myself a “runner.” I would run some when I was big into cycling, but never ran road races of any kind. This all changed in April 2017. Someone mentioned they were running the Cap10K. I thought, if he can run a 10K, I can run a 10K. BOOM!! Self-imposed challenge accepted. 

I trained for two weeks. Everyone said I would finish around 1:30-1:40. My goal was to just finish injury-free. Race day came and I was nervous. I finished my first 10K in 1:07:30 at 51 years old. I was hooked. The race day environment was exciting and special. 

Self-imposed challenge accepted

Shortly after that race, our son suggested I try a marathon. Sure, why not, I said. Self-imposed challenge accepted. While researching marathons, I found the Austin Marathon in February 2018. I immediately registered. I started training in July 2017, a 32-week beginner training plan. Training went well. In February 2018, I completed my first marathon in 5:26:09 at 52 years old. 

Since that self-imposed challenge in April 2017, I’ve completed multiple 5K & 10K races, one half marathon, three marathons, and the Trivium Hill Country 50K. I have logged about 1,700 training and race miles. I’m now in training for my first 50-mile run in November (Wild Hare) and am again registered for the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Self-imposed challenge accepted. I LOVE TO RUN😎

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. Submissions will be accepted through August 16, 2020. Other My Running Story submissions include Kayleigh Williamson and Kirsten Pasha.