Cancer survivor Serena Wilcox's enthusiasm unites Vermont trail-running community
At 10:56 p.m. on July 17, Serena Wilcox, 31, crossed the finish line at the Vermont 100 ...
Photo by Bob Ayers
At 10:56 p.m. on July 17, Serena Wilcox, 31, crossed the finish line at the Vermont 100 in West Windsor, Vermont, to the cheers of a small but exuberant crowd. At only her second 100-miler, she had finished a surprising third place, in 18 hours 56 minutes 48 seconds.
Instead of retiring for some much-deserved sleep, Wilcox celebrated her fine finish by taking off her shoes and running garb, wrapping herself in a towel and plunking down on a camp chair to soak her blistered feet. Despite the threatening weather, she stayed up until 7:30 in the morning, cheering finishers across the line. "Supporting my friends keeps my energy level high," she says.
Wilcox is known in the Vermont trail-running community not just for clocking faster and faster race times, but for being an ever-present cheerleader. "After placing third at the 2009 Peak Ultra Run 50-miler in Pittsfield, she went back out on the course—wearing a sun dress and sandals—to pace at least four different runners to the finish," says friend Todd Archambault.
Such exuberance makes it hard to believe that just six years ago Wilcox, then 24, was fighting for her life. "An X-ray showed a lump the size of a large orange between my lungs. That afternoon I was in the O.R. for a biopsy." It was non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a strain of cancer that attacks lymphocytes present in the body's immune system.