Rooting for Root
RENO, Nev. —
"Erika, her return from cancer within one year of having stage four cancer in stunning," said Nevada Track and Field Coach Kirk Elias with amazement.
Well, that pretty much says it all, doesn't it?
A little over a year ago, Nevada trackster and Reno High alum Erika Root found herself in a hospital in Las Vegas. She checked herself in hours after running a PR in the 3,000 meters at the Mountain West indoor track and field championships.
"Basically over the course of that night we found out that she had cancer," said Elias. "I found out literally the same time she did. Our trainer was there, myself, and Erika. That was pretty darn emotional for all of us."
Today, after going through chemotherapy for stage four Hodgkin's Lymphoma, she is on the track and in remission.
"It’s nice to get back to normal life," said Root. "This is normal for me. Getting cancer seems really not normal and then within a year it’s like, ‘Okay I’m back doing what I do.’"
But her coach didn’t think that her final season of NCAA eligibility would happen.
"I just thought it would take her a lot longer to come back. She didn’t start running again until November. That’s not much time to prepare for a Division I track and field season. She has just worked her tail off and turned herself back into a competitive athlete."
Root did more than just be competitive in her first race back in March.
She PR’d in the 2,000 meter steeplechase at the Cal Outdoor open, winning the event.
"Oh it just feels so nice," beamed Root. "It’s really wonderful to just feel good out there and feel like I’m doing something that I thought maybe I wouldn’t be able to do and I’m doing it well."
Perhaps most importantly, she’s coming back with a new perspective.
"I would say I have sort of a renewed sense of gratitude for the grind. I feel happy and lucky to be out here at practice when I’m really sore and tired. This year it’s just like I want to really get out of it all of the enjoyment that I can."