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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cancer Is Toughest Foe For Top 4-Minute Miler

NEW YORK -- Running a mile against world-class athletes can be a tough, grueling battle.


Steve Scott has run 135 sub-four minute miles -- more than anyone in history. Competing in a mile race is a lot easier than the battle he is fighting against cancer.


"It's difficult to deal with," said Scott, 38, who underwent surgery for testicular cancer in May and had 15 lymph nodes removed from his rib cage and groin. A biopsy at the time showed no further cancer.


"I'm prepared to go through anything I have to do to beat this," said Scott, who opted for the operations instead of chemotherapy.


So far, Scott is winning the battle. His progress has been so good that he is back up to running an average of 56 kilometers (35 miles) per week. That is far from the 136 to 144 kilometers he averaged during his peak racing days when he was ranked in the top 10 in the world from 1978-87.


Still, it is encouraging.


"You have to come back super slow," said Scott, who resumed running Sept. 1 after a four-month absence. "If you try to come back too quickly, your body can't take it.


For an athlete who never had a serious injury or illness during his 20-year running career, the setback was shocking. Scott is the fifth-fastest miler in history, and the U.S. mile record-holder with a 3:47.69 clocking in 1982.


Scott estimates it will take him about four months to get back to normal training. He plans to make his comeback in competition April 1 in the Carlsbad 5,000. After that, he hopes to run three or four more races, including the U.S.A. Championships, before trying for his fourth Olympic team in 1996.


"I know I'll be a longshot to make the team," said Scott, an Olympian in 1980, 1984 and 1988. "I know I have the capability of doing it."


"But I have to get the right formula. That will be the challenge. I will have to do a slow, steady buildup, without tearing myself down."


That will mean skipping the 1995 and 1996 indoor seasons and the lucrative European circuit. In addition to his quest for another Olympic team in 1996, the optimistic Scott will try to become the first Masters runner -- over 40 -- to break four minutes for the outdoor mile.


Scott has gotten inspiration from Philadelphia Phillies first baseman John Kruk, who underwent testicular cancer surgery during spring training this year and was ready for the opening of the season. Scott said that when his doctor first told him he had cancer, he prefaced it by saying it resembled Kruk's condition.


"He told me it was treatable and that it was 87 percent curable," Scott said. "I liked those odds.


"I just accepted it. Getting upset about it was not going to make things better. My attitude was to do what I had to do to get well."