Woman runs 8 marathons in 18 months for cancer research

Human Interest
Judith Arnell started her jewelry business more than 40 years ago. (KOIN) 

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland woman known for her custom-made jewelry is making a name for herself in the running world.

At 72 years old, Judith Arnell has run eight marathons in 18 months.

Arnell started her first jewelry shop more than 40 years ago. Her designs are eye-catching but it’s the reason she started running that’s really impressive. 

Her daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2016 and four years before that her husband Charles was diagnosed with Leukemia.

Judith Arnell started running marathons to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society after her husband and daughter both got diagnosed. (KOIN) 

“I call my daughter six times a day and I’m like ‘Are you OK?’ and she’s like, ‘Mom, I’m OK'” Arnell said. 

Charles started running first in 2012 to raise money for Portland’s Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He ran five marathons with leukemia. 

“So I’d get on the sidelines and I’d cheer him on,” Arnell said. “Charles said, ‘Andrea is sick with leukemia, I’m sick with leukemia, you should be running, not me.'”

“Don’t ever challenge me with anything because I will do it,” Arnell said.

Her first run was only three miles but it wasn’t long before she finished her first marathon in August of 2017.

At 72 years old, Judith Arnell has run eight marathons in 18 months.(KOIN)

“Never ran a step in my life until then,” she said. 

Since then, Arnell has finished eight marathons and raised more than $20,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“They developed 18 breakthroughs last year alone and this is all done through donations of us runners,” Arnell said. “So when I run I plead with everyone I know to give money for leukemia and lymphoma and in return, I will run my little butt off.” 

Her greatest accomplishment was last fall when she ran through five boroughs and over five bridges to finish the New York City Marathon. 

“It’s not in my soul to give up on anything,” Arnell said. “You can do it, anyone can do it.” 

Arnell plans to run in New York again this year and her nail technician gave her the first donation she needs — $16 of tips. 

She doesn’t have to qualify this time because she runs with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s team and training group, which has a starter program for anyone interested. 

At 72 years old, Judith Arnell has run eight marathons in 18 months .( KOIN)

Arnell’s daughter is in remission. Charles isn’t but he’s living an active and vegan lifestyle. 

KOIN 6 News anchor Jennifer Hoff’s series, Women Crush Wednesday, highlights women who are crushing it. Who do you know breaking the glass ceilings, inspiring others, doing good?  Send a message to Jennifer Hoff.

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