Algona’s marathon man: Dialysis patient completes Seattle race

It was by no means an easy road, but one Peter Phan was determined to travel on Sunday. The 26-year-old Algona man – a kidney dialysis patient for nearly 10 years – completed his first 26.2-mile run, the 41st Seattle Marathon, under rainy, overcast skies.

Algona's Peter Phan crosses the finish line at Seattle Memorial Stadium on Sunday.

It was by no means an easy road, but one Peter Phan was determined to travel on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Algona man – a kidney dialysis patient for nearly 10 years – completed his first 26.2-mile run, the 41st Seattle Marathon, under rainy, overcast skies.

Phan finished the race in 5 hours, 41 minutes and 25 seconds, 1,247th overall in a field of 11,007 competitors.

“It was quite tough,” Phan said. “I am going to train much harder for next year.”

Seattle’s Jesse Williams, 34, won the men’s crown in 2:29:54. Williams was more than three minutes faster than runner-up Ian Nurse of Portland.

Trish Steidl, 34, the Seattle University men’s and women’s track and cross country coach, won the women’s race for the third time, this time in 3:03:41.

Phan vowed to go where few people with his condition have gone.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s something I’m going to do,” Phan said before the race.

Phan undergoes three four-hour dialysis sessions each week at the Auburn Kidney Center.

Phan is quietly confident for someone who battles severe kidney disease. He consistently puts in the long training miles, sometimes clipping off a 10-mile run to build the necessary strength and stamina to ultimately run a marathon.

To refuel during the many miles, he frequently reaches for water and a secret snack.

“Gummi bears,” Phan said of the popular gelatin-based candies, which provide needed carbohydrates without the potassium. “Every mile or so, I eat a handful.”

Doctors consider Phan an anomaly. According to Northwest Kidney Centers’ research, he appears to be one of a few dialysis patients ever to run such a long race.

“I have tried many times to Google search for other patients who have ran marathons, or competed in endurance sports, and I have only found a handful of names,” Phan said.

Phan recently received the Northwest Kidney Centers’ Christopher Blagg Rehabilitation Scholarship to attend the licensed practical nursing program at Highline Community College. He also works full-time on the night shift as a supervisor at the Car Toys distribution center.

Phan wants to be a registered nurse.

“I want to help people,” he said. “I feel it’s a way to give back to all those people who have cared for me in the last decade.”

That care began when Phan, then an 17-year-old Auburn High School student, suddenly collapsed one day in the spring of 2002. He woke up in the emergency room.

“I just thought it was a bad flu,” he said.

Doctors discovered his kidneys had stopped. They immediately began treatment.

Despite frequent and time-consuming dialysis, Phan maintains a positive outlook on life.

“I consider myself pretty lucky,” he said. “I’m pretty independent compared to some of the other patients.”

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ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter
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