Daily Distraction: Watch the trailer for a new short film on runner Tommy Rivers Puzey

'Love & Strength: A Ballad of Tommy Rivs' will follow the runner's miraculous recovery through the eyes of his wife, Steph Catudal

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Tommy Puzey of Flagstaff won the 2016 Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon then repeated as champion in 2017.

In late July 2020, runner Tommy Rivers Puzey, the affable iFit trainer with whom I have logged countless pandemic hours on the treadmill, was hospitalized with a respiratory issue, later diagnosed as a rare and aggressive form of cancer. 

At the time, Puzey's prognosis was dire. He ended up spending two and a half months in the intensive care unit, beginning a slow comeback in November 2020 when he again learned how to sit up in bed. A year later, in November, Puzey took part in the New York City Marathon, walking the 26.2-mile course in nine hours and 19 minutes, writing on Instagram that the feat was "the single most difficult athletic achievement that I've ever accomplished," which is saying something considering his history as a distance runner.

Now, Outside TV has released the trailer for a new short film that captures this remarkable turnaround through the eyes of Puzey's wife, Steph Catudal, and including extensive interviews with Rivs himself, who has been documenting his health saga with jarring honesty on social media from the onset.

"A year ago this week I was transferred out of a bone marrow transplant unit into an inpatient rehabilitation facility. I couldn’t breathe, or eat, or swallow, or walk. I was 95 lbs and too frail to be considered a viable transplant candidate. That’s another way of saying that I would die if they attempted it," he wrote in the days before the NYC Marathon. "Death felt close. It seemed to hover over me waiting for permission to land. Sometimes it felt like I was directly under the shadow it cast. Like it was only a thought away. On the darkest days and on every day I told myself the same thing. Keep moving. You’re still here. As long as you’re moving you’re still here. As long as you’re moving it’s not allowed to touch you."

As you can see in the trailer below, Puzey is still moving, still pressing forward, which is both remarkable and something to be celebrated.