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'I feel good' | Kentucky man continues running half marathons while battling cancer

Tommy Craft thought the last thing he'd ever have to deal with was prostate cancer. Two years in, treatments continue, but so does his passion for running.

RICHMOND, Ky. — Tommy Craft is a busy guy.

"I teach high school English and I'm also the yearbook advisor," he said.

He's been a teacher in the Lexington, Kentucky area for almost 29 years. Recently, he's also gained the title of cross country coach. When Coach Craft isn't busy training the next generation, he's outside.

"I started running about 8 years ago, and I really just haven't stopped," he said.

Running is his passion and the way he said he relieves stress.

"I just go into this tunnel vision and just focus on where I'm going. And to me, that's probably the most relaxing so that I can just sort of leave things behind," he said.

Leave things behind that worry him. For the last couple of years one thing, in particular, has been top of mind.

"Most people when they see me they tell me, 'You look great. You look so good.' And it's like, well, I feel good. It's just that I know that there's something else going on," said Craft.

That "something else" is prostate cancer.

"I was a little surprised because I thought this certainly can't be me," said Craft. "But the more I read on it, the more I thought, this doesn't sound too good."

He just turned 49 years old when his doctor had a test done. Craft said usually, prostate cancer screenings don't start until men turn 50 years old.

Craft had his prostate removed in November 2019. Then, around six weeks later, he ran a 5k.

Credit: Tommy Craft
Tommy Craft racing.

"I worked, trained, and I felt really good and was really enjoying running and just living," he said.

But his battle wasn't over.

"The cancer is still there," said Craft. "And so in early July of 2021, I started 36 rounds of radiation. But I was able to keep running."

Craft ran through it all. His pace has slowed, but his love for the sport grows stronger. He ran in the Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon in October 2021.

"That might have been my first half back after radiation," said Craft.

It's a race that stuck with him.

"I remember there was this very big hill," he said. 

It's Noelton Drive, for anyone who knows the marathon course.

"And this little boy was at the top, and he kept applauding, and he kept saying, 'You can do this, you can do this,'" said Craft. "Obviously he didn't know my story, but at the time I felt like he was speaking directly to me. I almost got emotional by the time I got to the top of that hill because I was just taking it so personally."

Craft just finished his 132nd half marathon this past weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He'll be back to run in Knoxville again later in March.

"I know that I'm never going to win the race. At this point, I'm probably never going to win my age group again, and that's okay," said Craft. "Because every time I go out, I feel like I'm victorious anyway."

Because through it all, Craft never stopped running.

And he never will.

"I just want to encourage people to go out there and have their routine checkups," said Craft. "Stay on top of things. Know your body and take care of it." 

The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon and Half Marathon will be held Sunday, March 27 starting and ending in World's Fair Park.

WBIR will have live coverage during the race.

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