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Running against cancer: Elke Kleinhans and her virtual runs


Elke Kleinhans – Running against cancer

On Valentine's Day last year, our VirtualRunner Elke Kleinhans was diagnosed with bowel cancer. But she didn't let that stop her from having a positive attitude towards life and proving it to herself and the doctors! Sports, especially running, helps her a lot. Together with her dog Percy, Elke regularly takes part in virtual runs with VirtualRunners. She has already mastered runs such as the Bali Dream Marathon, the New York Marathon, the New Year’s Eve run and the Dubai Marathon, and more runs with us are still to come!

And this despite her 2 chemotherapies and countless treatments and operations. While other patients let themselves down, Elke was already running for her next medal!

In addition, she supports cancer aid as a "runner against cancer"  and is also part of the corresponding Facebook group. Here, 1ct. per kilometer goes to various cancer aid organizations. Last year, she and the community of 652 members collected a total of €40,000!

She is a role model for many and shows that each of us can make a big difference, no matter what situation we are in.

And as astonishing as that may seem, Elke is not an isolated case! We regularly receive life stories from our participants about how they mastered or overcame an illness through running and gained completely new life energy!

For this, we would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The power of our community inspires us all very much!

In the interview you can find out more about Elke and how she motivated herself to start running marathons!

VR: Dear Elke, tell us more about what you did after your cancer diagnosis and why running was your motivation?

When I was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer, I told myself that if I could do it, I would run a half marathon. I've always liked running, but I just needed motivation. I had the whole programme with chemo, radiotherapy and operations.

VR: What motivated you to run so many virtual marathons with VirtualRunners?

It was definitely the medals. Since there are/were no real runs due to Corona, this was the best alternative. I only found it by chance via Facebook, it was the Dog Run in October that started it all. And now I'm kind of addicted to the great medals, which are all hanging on my wall. I even have all the certificates in a folder.

VR: How did your doctors react to your energy and your will to live, you should probably rest rather than run marathons?

The doctors at the hospital only knew me like that, because immediately after the first operation I wanted to start marching. Up and down 4 floors and 2 laps through the hospital park. That's how I started to move. When the radiation treatments were over, I started walking again the very next day. The doctors would have liked to see more patients like me. Of course, I had to wait after the big operation until I could run again, but that went quickly and I laced up my fast shoes.

VR: What are your next goals in terms of your health and in terms of running marathons?

I quit smoking last year and I also changed my diet so that I eat healthy as much as possible.

First of all, of course, I would like to complete the virtual half marathon (I will do it on 18.04. via Virtual Runners), but then I would like to continue to improve, and the final goal is a "real" marathon.


Thank you very much for the interview Elke and good luck with the marathon :)

Your VirtualRunners Family


Dominican Republic Run Marathon - VirtualRunners April 2021

Image 1: Elke Kleinhans