Mission Ambassador. Ultra-Marathon Runner. Film-Maker.Donate
“For many of us, we are self-limiting in what we think we can do and allow ourselves to attempt,” says Sean Cowan.
Decades after his cancer diagnosis and treatment, in 2018, Sean met the founder of Mission and became involved with the organization. In Sean’s words, he was “fortunate enough to get testicular cancer, and fortunate enough to catch it and treat it early.” He says outside of annual check-ups, he doesn’t live with many of the after-effects of cancer, but that it has fundamentally changed the way he thinks about life.
Through Mission, Sean’s been inspired by the many community members that have defied the odds.
“Their strength, resiliency, and resolve made quite an impression — enough so that I questioned my ability to push past limits myself,” he said.
Over the past 30 years, Cowan says his “two fitness towers” have been running and rowing. He’s run the NYC Marathon handfuls of times, including in 2017 and 2018 for team Mission, when he was first exposed to Mission’s Adventure Project.
Mission’s Adventure Project athletes inspired Sean to sign up for the oldest ultramarathon in the US, the JFK 50, and later, two 100 Mile Ultramarathons.
Sean’s other passions include film-making, which is what brought him into the world of ultra-marathon running.
“What is this world of weirdos who run so far?” Sean asked. While he wanted to know why they did it, he was more intrigued by what it felt like. He decided to investigate.
As he learned more about the world of ultra-marathoning, which dates back to the 70s, he started to meet key figures of the movement. It wasn’t long before he got hooked on long-distance running himself.
He was forced to unlearn his own limiting belief that just because he “didn’t look like a runner,” at 6 ‘4 and 215 pounds, that it was still for him.
Sean was recently accepted to run the Leadville 100 this August. Called “Race Across the Sky,” it’s the highest altitude ultra in the US, starting at more than 10,000 feet altitude and going up to near 13,00 across the Rocky Mountains.
Sean said it took him until his mid to late 40s to realize that “comfort is a lie.”
Most of us are taught to avoid pain in our lives. Sean is one of those people who noticed that by embracing it, things can actually improve.
“I’ve found that if I expose myself to more physical discomfort, it rounds out the edges of other things in life. That’s why I’m keeping myself in this place. I won’t say I love every long run, which can get rough, but I like the idea of having my body in motion and being in physical discomfort because it makes other things easy.”