The July issue of Runner's World Magazine, dedicated to outrunning cancer, features a cover photo of Waukesha native and Olympic hopeful Serena Ramsey Burla.
The 28-year-old ran for her coach/father on the state champion Waukesha West cross country teams, went on to become an All-American at the University of Missouri and recovered from synovial sarcoma to run the 2010 ING New York Marathon in two hours, 37 minutes and six seconds.
“I was just so grateful and filled with joy, the whole time I was running, even when I totally hit the wall,” Burla said in a post-marathon interview. “I enjoyed all the pain and all the things that came with the marathon.
“Less than a year ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed that I would be out there on the streets of New York. So much had been in question. It was more than I dreamed about in February and March. It was an exciting, exciting moment.”
Burla is on the cover of roughly 700,000 Runner's World copies sent to subscribers and one of eight runners featured in the magazine distributed to newstands this week.
A few of the runners are celebrities; some are fast; others are back-of-the packers. All are cancer survivors.
The mother of a 2 1/2-year-old son, Burla endured severe pain in her right hamstring in 2009, as she ramped up her training and moved into the top ranks of the country's distance runners. She ran through the pain to take second in the USA Half-Marathon Championships in Houston, in January 2010, then sought treatment for an injury she believed to be running-related.
The diagnosis stunned her.
"The priority was to save my life," Burla said. "I have to be here for Boyd. Then it was, 'try to save my leg.' Running in any shape or form was after that."
A surgeon at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York removed an egg-sized tumor from her right leg in February, 2010, and she took her first running strides in April.
After the break out marathon in New York, she ran to a solid second place in the 2011 USA Half-Marathon back in Houston and set a new PR (2:35) in the Prague Marathon last month.
She will compete for a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team during the marathon trials in January.
The Runner's World edition that features her shares many stories that intertwine running and efforts to defeat cancer. The magazine estimates that runners raised $650 million for cancer charities in 2010.
The "Outrunning Cancer" special package features 42 pages of compelling and inspiring content looking at running and cancer from all angles.
Runner’s World has partnered with two-time Academy Award nominee Edward Norton’s fundraising website Crowdrise.com to create the first-of-its-kind, comprehensive list of cancer charities with running connections, and has made it easy to support any of them.
“We’ve learned over the years that when we tell inspiring stories like these, our readers do more than just marvel,” said Runner's World Editor-in-Chief David Willey. “So we worked with Crowdrise to put a structure in place for people to act.”