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Cancer doesn't slow Fritz Van de Kamp in Ogden Marathon

Published July 7, 2011 9:22 am

A veteran of nearly 40 marathons, Fritz Van de Kamp knows "it's all about living in the moment."
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The theme of the 11th annual Ogden Marathon in May was "Get Out and Live," and no single runner was a better example than Salt Lake City runner Fritz Van de Kamp. Running the marathon with his mother, Wendy, a history professor at Weber State, Van de Kamp won the race for the third year in a row.

According to Wendy Van de Kamp, her son, 31, doesn't normally go out of his way to mention it, but it was only four years ago, in 2007, he was diagnosed with cancer.

"It changes your perspective to a great extent, given that one day I feel great, I'm strong and healthy, and the next day I'm being told I have cancer," said Van de Kamp, "The next day I'm having surgery. It makes you realize you don't know how long you have."

After running nearly 40 marathons in his life, Van de Kamp wasn't going to stop after surgeons removed a cancerous tumor from his abdomen. He wasn't going to slow down when he was told he would need to take a semester off at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was pursuing an M.B.A, to come back to Utah for nine weeks of chemotherapy.

He continued to run even during the chemo.

"It helps remind me that things could always be worse," said Van de Kamp. "When I don't feel well I can remember those days I was training with chemotherapy and I felt completely tired after running three miles. If I could do it then, what's 10 miles when I'm perfectly healthy?"

Since overcoming testicular cancer, Van de Kamp has won several events. Besides his three-peat in Ogden, he also took first in the 2010 Salt Lake Marathon and the 2010 Mesquite Marathon.

He is an inaugural member of the Utah Elite Racing Team, a group founded by SUU track alumni Nate Houle to help recognize those running at the highest level of distance running in Utah. Houle first met Van de Kamp in his pursuit of bringing together the best racers, and believed Van de Kamp's story was compelling.

"He's reserved," Houle said. "Fritz is quietly confident. He knows what he's doing, but he's never really going to cheer loud about it or anything."

Van de Kamp will run one more marathon this summer before facing his stiffest competition in the fall when he runs the Chicago Marathon on October 9. If he can reach 2:19:00, about six minutes off his best time, he'll qualify for the Olympic trials. It's a lofty goal, but possibly nowhere near what he's already accomplished.  

"I always know I'll be running," Van de Kamp said. "It's just a matter of how long — how long am I going to be living. It's all about living in the moment." —

By the numbers

4 • Number of times Van de Kamp has won the Ogden Marathon, which is only in its 11th year.

10 • Minutes by which Van de Kamp beat the second place finisher in the 2010 Salt Lake Marathon. He finished with a time of 2:30:30.

14 • Minutes by which Van de Kamp beat the second place finisher in the Ogden Marathon. With a time of 2:25:04, he finished the 26 miles at a 5:32 mile pace.






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