Thomas Rivers Pusey, known as Tom­my Reeves, is an accom­plished marathon run­ner and coach. At 38 years old, he can boast of a whole range of awards and titles, but the man won his main vic­to­ry in the fight for his own life.

In April 2023, Tom­my entered the Boston Marathon and fin­ished in 4 hours 53 min­utes. Although pace is the last thing to con­sid­er with Reeves. Per­haps the return of the marathon run­ner to the dis­tance was the main event of the entire race.

“What a thrill it is to be alive”

Reeves first took part in the Boston Marathon in 2017 and showed his best result — 2 hours 18 min­utes, and a few months lat­er the ath­lete fell and broke his low­er spine. It took him 10 months to recov­er and resume train­ing.

The Boston Marathon is con­sid­ered one of the most pres­ti­gious marathon races in the world and the old­est run­ning annu­al­ly. The first race took place in 1897. Get­ting into the dis­tance is not easy; first you need to qual­i­fy: run one of the cer­ti­fied marathons and meet the des­ig­nat­ed time lim­it. But there is an option for spon­sor­ship and ben­e­fits, and run­ners with 10 years of expe­ri­ence can also take part in the Boston Marathon with­out pre-qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

In 2020, Reeves was hos­pi­tal­ized again: doc­tors diag­nosed an aggres­sive form of lung can­cer and pre­dict­ed min­i­mal chances of recov­ery. Tom­my fought can­cer for a year and a half: “My body is bro­ken, I lost weight to 45 kg. I have ulcers on my sacrum and legs, I ask the nurs­es to cov­er the wounds so they don’t get dirty while they change my dia­pers. I was exhaust­ed, but I final­ly real­ized the val­ue of my life.”

Reeves’ hos­pi­tal­iza­tion occurred at the height of the pan­dem­ic, and at first the man mis­took his ill­ness for Covid-19. Accord­ing to Reeves’ friend, they went on anoth­er trail, but Tom­my was com­plete­ly out of shape. The man then iso­lat­ed him­self and took a test — the result was neg­a­tive. Reeves put off going to the doc­tors for a long time, although he lat­er admit­ted that he should have imme­di­ate­ly sought help. As a result, the marathon run­ner was hos­pi­tal­ized uncon­scious and in seri­ous con­di­tion.

Reeves had to under­go sev­er­al oper­a­tions, intu­ba­tion of pul­monary ven­ti­la­tion, open biop­sy of the lung, instal­la­tion of ECMO in the jugu­lar and femoral vein, tra­cheosto­my, throm­bo­sis — it is point­less to list all the marks in the man’s med­ical record, there are too many of them. Com­ing out of a coma, he could not hold a phone in his hands due to weak­ness, and a year lat­er he ran the Boston Marathon again, although doc­tors believed that Reeves would spend the rest of his life on a ven­ti­la­tor.

“Learning to fly again”

Tom­my posts dai­ly reports about his work­outs. Nowa­days, trail run­ners strug­gle with long dis­tances: after 20 miles at a slow pace, they can’t believe they’re actu­al­ly doing it. “I’m real­ly tired and can’t feel my legs, but I’m so glad I can feel it again.”

Today Reeves is in remis­sion. Every work­out is dif­fi­cult for Tom­my, but he doesn’t stop. Reeves has always tried to “make train­ing part of your dai­ly life” — approach long dis­tances with­out fear, but with inter­est, and then the desire to go for a run will appear by itself.

Reeves’ major achievements

  • In 2015, he fin­ished first in the 50 km ultra­ma­rathon;
  • In 2016, Reeves won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and fin­ished first in the 193km Tran­sRock­ies.
  • A year lat­er, the marathon run­ner took 16th place in the over­all stand­ings of the Boston Marathon, com­plet­ing the dis­tance with the best time — in 2 hours 18 min­utes.
  • In 2018, Reeves fin­ished first at the Flagstaff Grand Canyon 55K.