Beloved Endurance Athlete Tommy Rivers Puzey shares his “why” for running in a short film about his experience at the 2023 Boston Marathon, which the formerly-elite runner finished in 4:53:44–which is remarkable, considering that three years ago he was stricken by a rare and aggressive form of lung cancer that nearly killed him. “I don’t love to run fast, I just love to run,” Puzey says.
Puzey, or “Rivs” (as fans and friends call him), has for years been an inspiring force to the endurance world and casual runners alike. Once known for being an elite marathoner, ultrarunner and triathlete, Puzey now runs to celebrate his incredible recovery from him and to strengthen his body in case of a relapse. His illness and recovery from him are documented in a recently published book, Everything All At Oncewritten by his wife, Steph Catudal.
Steph Caudal shares how her ultrarunner husband’s terrifying illness sparked transformation
The short film poses the question of why we run: something Puzey can find a multitude of eloquent ways to answer.”It’s an expression of what we are as human beings,” Puzey shares in the film. “It’s what we’re meant to do.” Puzey, who lost 75 percent of his lung capacity from his illness, has accepted and embraced his slower pace. “I don’t think anything has necessarily changed except that I’m not able to do it as fast,” he explains. Puzey returned to race with the 2021 New York City Marathon, sharing high-fives and smiles as he walked the course with Catudal in 9:18:57.
The 2017 Boston Marathon was where Puzey ran his best, finishing in 2:18:57 for 16th place. In 2022, Puzey ran a vastly different, yet even more remarkable race. Due to his reduced lung capacity (and despite looking incredibly fit) Puzey must rest for 15-20 seconds for every 30 seconds of running, and he still manages to pull off a sub-five-hour finish.
Puzey explains that post-illness, the draw to the sport remains the same to him. Returning to the level of fitness he formerly had is not the goal; rather, he wants to “do everything [he] can to reach [his] greatest new potential.” Puzey has so many fans for a reason–he comes across as thoughtful and genuine and speaks with humility and grace. The film will have you pondering your why, and leave you inspired by a runner who never gives up.