Steamboat Springs' David Nagel completed his first marathon Oct. 7 (Portland Marathon) in honor of his sister-in-law, Lee Nagel, who survived colon cancer. In the process, Nagel and his brother Steve raised nearly $40,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

David Nagel/Courtesy

Steamboat Springs' David Nagel completed his first marathon Oct. 7 (Portland Marathon) in honor of his sister-in-law, Lee Nagel, who survived colon cancer. In the process, Nagel and his brother Steve raised nearly $40,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Running for a cause

Local attorney transforms self, lends support to fighting cancer

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— Two years ago, David Nagel ran into a family crisis that no one ever wants to face.

His sister-in-law, Lee Nagel, had been hit with a rare form of colon cancer at age 35.

"When Lee was in the hospital, (my brother) Steve and I were sitting at the dinner table with his three- and one-year old kids and the doctors were not giving her a good chance of living - we broke down," he said

After a stroke of fortune with his sister-in-law's treatment at a Houston clinic, David Nagel decided to honor her survival by running out of the crisis.

"I wanted to give back and make a difference, and I wanted to do a significant thing to challenge people to support," said Nagel, who has lived in Steamboat Springs for eight years.

So, Nagel and his brother committed to "major physical challenges," Steve working toward a 100-mile bike ride and David committing to a marathon. Sharing their hometown of Plano, Texas, with Lance Armstrong, the brothers decided to raise funds through the Lance Armstrong Foundation to support cancer research.

"We got the philanthropic itch, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation is really cutting-edge philanthropy," Nagel said.

But before Nagel could raise any bucks, the 39-year-old attorney had to shed some pounds.

"I was out of shape, I never dreamed of doing" a marathon, said Nagel, a self-proclaimed "off-the-couch" athlete who joked that he had never run more than his 30-minute "fatboy runs" prior to the marathon training.

So in March, he started establishing his base, incorporating some of the shorter Steamboat Springs Running Series events into his training.

"I was accountable for all of it," Nagel said. "Because everyone that donated from around town would always ask, 'where are you at?' so I couldn't slack."

By late August, Nagel was getting his 20-mile runs in on Routt County Road 129.

But on Oct. 7, when he reached mile No. 20 of his target, the Portland Marathon, the challenge became mental.

"They keep a list, an honor roll, of all the people the donations are in memory of and I kept that list for my final mental preparation," Nagel said. "So at mile 20, I started thinking about each of those names - it became very emotional."

Nagel finished in 4 hours, 24 minutes, 31 seconds, a time he said he'll not soon forget. The next week, Steve Nagel finished the 100-mile bicycle ride at the Austin, Texas LIVESTRONG Challenge.

Even more surprising to the brothers than their physical transformations was the monetary support they rallied for the foundation - totaling $38,359 when all was said and done.

"There's a lot of people in the valley that supported me that I'm thankful of," said Nagel, already looking ahead to what new challenges and events Team Nagel can take on in the next year. "Everybody in some shape or fashion is affected by cancer - it's one of those things that doesn't discriminate and cuts across all cultures."

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