20 Years Moment: Meet Robert

As every runner toes the start line, within them resides the story that carried them there. Those stories are made up of moments that culminate in milestones.

The history of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series is made of moments and milestones created by runners just like you. In honor of our 20th anniversary celebration, we invite runners to share their most memorable running moments with us.

This is the story of Robert from New Jersey.

Robert has always been a competitor.

Growing up as a competitive swimmer, he’s always been drawn to long-distance competition and was immediately drawn to the Philadelphia Distance Run after learning about it in 1981.

Bitten by the running bug very early on, he was immediately hooked on the runner’s high. However, Robert also had extra motivation to run and stay in shape: his family has a long history of heart disease.

“Heart disease runs in my family and I was bound and determined to do what I could not to have the same experiences as those who preceded me,” he said. Now, having run 25 half marathons and six marathons, he uses running as an outlet for his energy, health, mind and honing his “drive” skills.

However, in 2012, Robert was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called cardiac sarcoidosis, ultimately leading to the development of cardio-myopathy and congestive heart failure. Initially able to treat the disease through medication, it became clear he would need a heart transplant.

After managing the condition with medication for a few years, Robert was admitted to the hospital on November 19, 2013 and received a heart transplant five days later. He credits his ability to get through this incredible challenge to the perseverance he developed through being a runner and performing business turnarounds.

“The mental toughness that you need (and I learned) in order to participate in 25 half marathons and six marathons, along with the hours and days of training commitment, is exactly what I needed,” he said. “Running prepared me to compete in this journey, and it worked for me.”

Now, in 2017, Robert will be returning to the start line of the American Association for Cancer Research Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon—making it his 20th half marathon in Philly and 26th half marathon overall—and is showing no signs of slowing down. His amazing journey is an inspiration for us and we can’t wait to see him out on the course and crossing the finish line!

Every runner has a story. Share your favorite moments or memories from running with Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.

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