Jul. 10—Don Provident delivered a brief but emphatic fist pump to mark crossing the finish line July 10 for the Johnnycake Jog in front of the Lake County Fairgrounds in Painesville Township.
Considering the last several months for the 53-year-old, an overhead fist pump — hard and through the summer air — would have been understandable as well.
After all, he's taken a hearty and brave swing at battling a brain tumor, in part by returning to something he reveres in the Jog.
Provident crossed the line in 53 minutes, 11 seconds, placing 217th overall out of 264 competitors in the five-mile race.
PHOTOS: Johnnycake Jog, July 10, 2022
Make no mistake, though — by being at this Jog, and maintaining personal tradition, he was a champion in every regard.
"Oh, it's great," Provident said before stepping to the line. "It was my goal coming out of surgery and radiation chemotherapy. It was a goal, because I've done 32 of these in a row. So I really wanted to get the 33.
"My treatment ended on March 30, so it gave me enough time to be able to complete five miles."
Doctors removed a tumor in Provident's forehead, which he described as being the size of a baseball, through surgery Dec. 6, 2021. The tumor was making contact with Provident's brain.
"They removed that successfully, and then there was a month or so in between when I started radiation chemotherapy," Provident said.
"The prognosis is good now. They got the whole tumor, and I'm done with treatment and feeling good."
Of course, returning to road racing wasn't as simple as restarting the regimen which had perennially gotten him to Jogs previously.
That process took time and patience. The initial step, walking around the block, required a nap afterward. Those steps, however, became incremental building blocks over time.
"I had to start with just walking, and then I started with one-tenth of a mile," Provident said. "Then a quarter of a mile and just built up really slowly. Things are going well. I just took that approach, because I was pretty much out of it. So I had to take a slow approach. It's worked so far."
The Riverside graduate noted proudly he did his first Jog in 1986, and it's been a personal tradition from there.
All things considered, even if there have been better finishes or times through the years, he'll never forget his 33rd appearance.
Provident stood out in the crowd of 264 starting the five-mile race with his neon green hat and adoring faithful there to cheer him on.
His path back to the Jog, seven months after laying on an operating table to have a brain tumor removed, assuredly stood out even more.
"I went to college, and then I started back up when I came back in '90," Provident said of the Jog. "And it's just such a great race. It's a great atmosphere. To me, it's like the Super Bowl of road racing in Lake County. I've always loved this race. I started the streak, and once you get to 10 or so, you want to keep it going.
"I marvel at the fact that I've been able to keep it going — like nothing has gotten in the way. And then finally, something really big got in the way. It's just so exciting, with the timing of it, to be able to keep the streak going and do another year in a row."
2022 Johnnycake Jog results