tommy rivers puzey
Cancer survivor, ultra-athlete, and iFIT trainer Tommy Rivers Puzey; (photo/Colleen Logan for iFIT)

Rivers Puzey Beats Cancer to Toe the Line at the Boston Marathon

Beloved ultra-athlete Tommy Rivers Puzey will jog the race today, 2 years after an unexpected diagnosis rattled the running community and threatened his life.

It wasn’t long ago that Tommy Rivers “Rivs” Puzey — or what was left of him — laid unconscious in a hospital bed. A rare and aggressive lymphoma, first diagnosed in July 2020, took a brutal toll on the ultrarunner. Puzey weighed as little as 75 pounds while he fought the atypical cancer through comas, intensive care, and six rounds of chemotherapy.

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April 18, though, constitutes a landmark for “Rivs’” phenomenal comeback: on Monday morning, he toed the line at the 126th Boston Marathon.

Tommy Rivers Puzey Comes Back

Puzey set his Boston PR in 2017, finishing 16th overall in a brisk 2:18:20. In more ways than one, his pace this year will be a little more accessible for everyday runners. The cancer survivor anchors iFIT‘s presence in the 2022 Boston Marathon, planning to take walk breaks while he jogs the course.

As part of the iFIT Race Series, Puzey’s comeback run will eventually become part of the brand’s on-demand training content. iFIT will embed a complete video crew for the entire marathon, who will run alongside Puzey for all 26.2 miles. A cameraman, audio technician, and an iFIT trainer will help support the runner as he gives spoken-to-camera coaching tips throughout the duration.

iFIT will later offer the content as a multipart on-demand workout series for ProForm, Freemotion, and NordicTrack connected treadmills.

In a statement, Puzey set a personal goal to finish the race as quickly as possible “given his current physical setbacks.” As of this writing, he last checked in at the 15k (9.3-mile) mark, at a fairly consistent 15-minute mile pace.

A ‘Medical Miracle’

“I hope those who do this series will be encouraged to know that at times progress is slow, but simply moving forward is sometimes enough,” Puzey said.

“We are honored that Rivs, who is beloved by our seven million members and the global running community, will lead our Boston Marathon race series,” said Mark Watterson, iFIT President and Chief Experience Officer. “His comeback and perseverance are profoundly inspiring to anyone facing obstacles in their life.”

iFIT said Puzey’s doctors agree his survival was a “medical miracle,” and acknowledge that his elite fitness leading up to the diagnosis “may have” keyed his recovery. Since his release from the hospital, training has helped him recover basic physical function.

How to Follow ‘Team Rivs’ Today

Today’s Boston Marathon is Rivs’ second race since his release. Last November, he finished the 2021 New York City Marathon in 9:18:57.

If he stays on pace today, he’ll hack well over 2 hours off that mark. Keep track of Puzey and #TeamRivs on Instagram here and here. Check out the full, searchable Boston Marathon results in real time.

Sam Anderson
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Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.