Iram J. Leon knows about overcoming adversity.
When the local running leader was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2010, he powered through to create lasting running memories with his daughter, Kiana. He participated in numerous marathons and races, inspiring those around him with his determination and positive attitude.
A few years later after the end of one race, fellow runner Elaine Chung asked him out. At the beginning of another race, Leon asked her to marry him. In 2018, they exchanged vows in a run-themed wedding, of course. Together, their family has participated in many community races, either competing or staying side by side.
One of those races has been the Statesman Capitol 10,000. As a popular local running figure, Leon was already well known in the Cap10K community and to its organizers. He was a natural fit to eventually become its race ambassador.
“The Cap10K is about community and commitment, and who better to represent our race than Iram J. Leon,” says Jeff Simecek, Cap10K race director. “We’ve been absolutely thrilled to be connected with a standout runner, leader and person like him.”
Leon assumed the title for the 2020 Cap10K, which was eventually canceled due to COVID-19. Like for so many others, the pandemic affected his life, including his running routine.
During the early, uncertain months, he continued to run with a friend. Those daily runs were a break from the new, uncomfortable normal and a chance for both to see someone outside of their respective households.
The longer the pandemic dragged on, however, it got harder to get up and run, especially as the summer temperatures started to climb. Since it’s cooled down, he has stepped his running back up.
“Being fit is good for your heart and mind, especially during challenging times,” says Leon.
Now, back to running regularly, he meets up with small groups, like for the Cap10K’s Austin’s Coffee House 10K Sunrise Tour. The tour combines exploring new training routes with enjoying a delicious cup of joe after.
“I’ve loved these Cap10K training runs,” says Leon. “I’ve met up with old friends and made new ones. It’s been great to run in parts of Austin I’d never run before and other cities like Pflugerville, Leander or Buda. The overall variety, the start and finish lines and the mile markers make these routes extra fun. And how can you beat a run that ends with a satisfying drink that supports a local business?”
If you’re a new runner or a past one looking to get back into shape, Leon has some advice.
“It’s one foot in front of the other. Look for local groups like the Austin Runners Club, which has some informal runs, or Rogue Running and the Gazelles, which have more regular training. Consistency is the key. Like a diet or a parent, it doesn’t have to be perfect but a pattern of effort. Enjoying it makes a lot easier. It’s a win-win.”
Now 10 years since his diagnosis, Leon has well surpassed the average survival time for brain cancer. He continues to keep running, keep moving and taking anything that comes his way in stride.
Leon will return as race ambassador for the 44th Cap10K on April 11, 2021, benefiting Marathon Kids.
Learn more about this inspiring local athlete and the popular local race at Cap10K.com.