Big Island Marathon – Race Director Going Strong despite battling Stage IV Glioblastoma
Race director still running strong
Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph is always running — whether it’s his five-mile daily morning jog or scrambling to tie up a loose end for the Big Island International Marathon.
Judging by the numbers, the three-pronged event — 26.2-mile marathon, half-marathon and 3.1-mile run/walk — is as popular as ever. The half-marathon, introduced two years ago, is a big hit among participants.
“Everybody wants to do the half-marathon,” said Joseph, the race director. “I’d like to keep it at 300, but we oversold it at 338. It’s not the full marathon and you don’t have to put in as much training, and you get to see the beauty of the race, which, to me, is the first eight to 10 miles.
“For the entire race, we’ve almost the same as last year. We’ve got 909. It’s in the same ballpark.”
In his Running with the Big Dog column on Feb. 20, the 64-year-old Joseph wrote that he had surgery for a malignant brain tumor, and credited his quick recovery — he was slowly up and moving the day following surgery — to being healthy and fit, his life’s motto and the message in almost every column.
“I’m doing well. It’s a rare brain disease (glioblastoma),” he said. “I feel good. I’m trying to be as normal as can be. I’m still managing to run. I jog five miles every morning, something I take pride in doing. Every afternoon, I go on a two or three mile walk. I love people, love doing things and try to keep life normal as possible.”
According to a rundown on wikipedia.org, the prognosis for stage IV glioblastoma is pretty grim. The survival rate for ages 50 and over is less than 50 percent, with numbers shrinking to single-digits after three years.
“Stage IV is gloomy, but I’m not buying into that kind of stuff,” Joseph said. “To me, they caught it early, took it out early and I’m getting treatment early. I’ve got no choice but to stay optimistic. I bought a book and a guy with the same disease lived for 16 years later.
“Laughter helps and the outpouring of the Hilo community after I wrote that story was incredible. I can’t tell you how many people emailed me out of the blue, giving me positive advice. I was truly overwhelmed. Hilo is a very supportive place. It’s a wonderful place. And there are a lot of wonderful people who make me feel good.”
He started chemotherapy and radiation sessions on March 12. He said he has no nausea, noting it’s “mind over matter.”
“The radiation is easy. There’s nothing to radiation,” he said. “You lie on a table and they blast you with radioactive beams. Hopefully, they kill the little critters.”
He’s taking steroids to deal with the swelling in his brain. The side effect is he’s eating more than ever and gain
ed 14 pounds. The steroids also affect his sleep, but not his disposition.
His mood remained on an enthusiastic wavelength at all times, while talking about his health and especially the work of the BIIM volunteers.
“The volunteers make me look good. I just coordinate,” he said. “We get 300 to 400 people to make the Hilo marathon look good. We don’t advertise it. It’s the beauty of the marathon and it sells itself. It’s a really beautiful marathon with the people here. When people come here to race, they’re overwhelmed.”
Then Joseph talked about the popularity of the half-marathon, which, symbolically will be a tie-in to his longevity.
“If we let it go, the half-marathon could easily go to 500. But I believe in being environmentally sensitive and meeting the needs of the quiet community,” he said. “As long as I’m around, it’s going to small. We’ll keep it around 300. And I plan on being around for a while.”