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Khvasecko has ran a marathon in all 50 states twice and is now working on round three making the Air Force marathon her third marathon ran in the state of Ohio.
Running marathons has so much more meaning for cancer survivor and pacer Julia Khvasechko as she runs in her 229th marathon at this year’s Air Force Marathon on Sept. 21.
Looking at Khvasechko today, she is a vision of health and wellness; but 20 years ago, that was not the case.
In 1998 at the age of 24, she began experiencing seizures and after a visit to the doctor and several medical tests, she was diagnosed with brain cancer.
With only a 30 percent chance to survive, Khvasechko’s determination to beat the disease came after watching runners participate in the New York Marathon.
“Everyone looked healthy and I would have given anything at that time in my life to be healthy,” she said. “I decided then and there that if God gave me the strength to get me out of my wheelchair, I was going to run a marathon.”
Khvasechko had a glioma in her right temporal lobe and underwent a temporal lobectomy. After undergoing treatments and learning how to walk again unassisted, Khvasechko was finally cancer free and as she promised herself, she ran her first marathon in 2005 at the Marine Corps Marathon and in 2007, she ran the New York Marathon.
“I ran by the hospital where I was once a patient and as I went by, I waved at everyone, high-fived them and I cried tears of joy,” Khvasechko said. “That was the greatest feeling I have ever had in my entire life!”
Khvasecko has been running marathons ever since and has made many memorable events along the way. In fact, in 2010 at a marathon in Wisconsin, she met her husband to be, Maj. Shane Garling, and after three years of dating, Garling proposed to her at a marathon in Louisiana. On Jan. 19, 2014, Khvasecko and Garling sealed the deal and exchanged wedding vows on Mile 17 at the Maui Oceanfront Marathon in Maui, Hawaii.
That day also marked Khvasecko’s accomplishment of running a marathon in all 50 states and again at the same marathon on Jan. 15, 2017, she completed her second round of running in every state.
A licensed massage therapist and yoga teacher, Khvasecko is now working on her third round making the Air Force Marathon her third race in Ohio. Her goal is to finish once again in Maui by January 2021.
No longer running for herself, Khvasechko is driven to help other people achieve their goals by running as a pacer.
“I am honored to be coming back and pacing the 4:25 group this year at the Air Force Marathon,” said Khvasechko. “I love to help people become their best selves and achieve their goals and dreams. When someone runs in my group, I get to know them and find out why they are running then use that to propel them forward. I remind them that they are stronger than they know and inspire them with my own story of overcoming obstacles. I ask them to remember why they started running and encourage them constantly to not give up, to reinforce that they can and they will do it.”(08/22/2019) ⚡AMP