Asked why he’s running the New York City marathon less than a year after completing treatment for cancer, Ethan Zohn can only laugh.
“Well, I like to put myself through pain, I guess you could say,” he says. But more seriously, he adds, “My father ran the New York City marathon when I was a kid, and I always wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
But injuries – and cancer – got in the way of Survivor: Africa winner’s goal. “In 2008, I was ready to do it but I tore my ACL,” he says of his anterior cruciate ligament, in his knee. “[Last year] I was ready to run it again, but I was diagnosed with cancer. So, 2010 comes along, and this my year!”
Zohn is also fulfilling the dream he thought about while undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After receiving a stem cell transplant, he’d stare out the window at Manhattan’s First Ave., where the runners will race on Nov. 7. “I visualized myself everyday running up that road and crossing the finish line,” he says. “It provided me a lot of inspiration – and nine, 10 months later I’m going to be doing it!”
Plenty of Support
Zohn admits that while he’s a bit nervous, he knows he as a lot of support, including from members of his Grassroots Soccer charity, for whom he’s running.
“The beauty is I’m not just running for myself, so I can’t stop,” he says of the organization, which provides HIV/AIDS knowledge, life skills and support to at-risk youth in Africa. “We’re one big happy family.” The team also includes former Bachelor star Lorenzo Borghese, soccer player Leslie Osborne and One Life to Live‘s Brett Claywell.
And on the sidelines, Zohn’s family will be cheering him on, alongside his girlfriend of seven years, Jenna Morasca.
“She’ll be running as hard as I am to keep up with me at all points in the race,” he says of his partner, who’s getting her masters in clinical psychology at Columbia University. “She’s fantastic.”
The two are currently collaborating on a book and developing a reality TV show, but don’t expect to hear wedding bells just yet. “We’ll see how the marathon goes,” Zohn says with a laugh.