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Iowa man overcomes obstacles to race in the IMT Des Moines Marathon

<i>KCCI</i><br/>Rick Gustafson has been running marathons since 1987. His first was in Des Moines during the Drake Relays
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KCCI
Rick Gustafson has been running marathons since 1987. His first was in Des Moines during the Drake Relays

By Beau Bowman

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    DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) — Rick Gustafson has been running marathons since 1987. His first was in Des Moines during the Drake Relays, and he has run 11 since then.

Now, the social studies teacher and former elementary school principal is preparing for his 13th marathon. He showed KCCI his “man cave” where he has pictures of all 12 of his marathons.

Gustafson describes the feeling of completing a marathon as “tremendous.”

”I’ve always likened that to what it could be like as far as getting to heaven. You cross that finish line they announce your name there’s that great cloud of witnesses that are surrounding you, upholding you, encouraging you,” Gustafson said.

For months now, Gustafson has been training for the IMT Des Moines Marathon — his first in 15 years.

A hernia kept him out of races last year. During a follow-up check-up this spring, a scan found spots on his lung. In August, the doctor told him it was cancer.

“My reaction was, God is great. God is good,” Gustafson said.

Leaning on his faith, Gustafson decided to wait on the surgery to remove it until after the Des Moines Marathon.

”It’s important because I’m a finisher. Sometimes to the chagrin of my wife. I have to finish something before I can do the next thing,” Gustafson said.

After the Des Moines Marathon on Sunday, Gustafson will have surgery to remove a wedge of his lung three days later.

Gustafson knows he won’t be able to run the entire race. He’ll have to stop and walk.

But finishing is something he has to do too.

“If I have to crawl… I will cross that finish line,” Gustafson said.

He already has a spot on his wall ready for a new frame.

“Marathon 13 will go right here,” he said.

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