Kikkan Randall, cancer free and moved by running legend, tackles New York City Marathon

Getty Images
0 Comments

Olympic cross-country skiing champion Kikkan Randall will run the New York City Marathon on Sunday to celebrate last year’s successful breast cancer treatment, but she mentally signed up for the 26.2-mile race several years before her diagnosis.

Randall felt the marathon itch while in Norway for competition, long before winning the U.S.’ first cross-country skiing gold medal with Jessie Diggins in the team sprint at her fifth and final Olympics in PyeongChang.

The Norwegian organization Aktiv Against Cancer invited Randall to an event. She learned that Aktiv was co-founded in 2007 by Norwegian Grete Waitz, the record nine-time NYC Marathon champion who was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and died in 2011 at age 57. She learned that its mission was to make physical activity a regular part of cancer treatment.

“It immediately made a lot of sense to me,” Randall said. Randall, along with ski teammates, committed to Aktiv events every time they were in Oslo for a race. They worked out with cancer patients who were doing exercises in hospitals.

“A few of my teammates who were contemplating retirement, we all kind of said, when we retire from ski racing, let’s go run the marathon, raise some money for Aktiv,” Randall said.

That was the plan two winters ago. Randall would wrap up her skiing career at the February 2018 Winter Games, then run the November 2018 New York City Marathon for Aktiv. She would also receive an inspiration award from Aktiv at a pre-race luncheon.

But two months after the Olympics, Randall was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.

“I had to call [Aktiv] back and say that our connection had just deepened,” Randall said, “that I wasn’t sure now that I would get to run the marathon.”

As Randall underwent six rounds of chemotherapy in the summer and fall of 2018, she stayed physically active. She toyed with the idea of keeping her Nov. 8 marathon entry, in between her last round on Oct. 22 and November surgery.

“But as the chemo sessions went on, I started to realize that probably wasn’t the smartest idea,” she said. “The progressive rounds of chemo had been kind of breaking me down and compromising my immune system.”

Randall still traveled to New York last November for race weekend. She accepted the Aktiv inspiration award. Then she watched in Central Park as Olympic teammate Liz Stephen completed the five-borough race in 2 hours, 58 minutes, 40 seconds.

“I decided to come back next year,” Randall said. “It’s just been a great goal to have this year as I built my way back from finishing treatment.”

Surgery showed chemo had dissolved the tumors. Randall finished precautionary radiation in late January. “That still felt like the most intense part because I had to go in every single day,” she said.

She had infusions every three weeks through early July, but they were manageable with no side effects. She’s on hormone suppression medication for the next five years, also precautionary to prevent recurrence.

“Since November, pretty confident I’m cancer-free,” she said.

Unlike most first-time marathoners, Randall has actually competed in a longer distance. She skied her first 50km (31 miles) event in Wisconsin in February, taking 2 hours, 48 minutes.

Randall trained through public speaking engagements all summer, including a Sunday long run on a Princess Cruises deck track — 87 laps to reach 12 miles. She tuned up for New York City by winning the female division of a half marathon in Kelowna, B.C., two weeks ago in 1:23:43, an hour north of her home. Her plan was to run closer to 1:30.

“I’ve had a good amount of distance from finishing the hardest part of my treatments,” she said, “so I’ve been feeling pretty normal energy-wise.”

Randall’s goal on Sunday is to break three hours. She plans to start the race with Stephen and another Olympic cross-country skier, Ida Sargent. Her husband, Jeff Ellis, and father and brother will be there. Her son, 3-year-old Breck, will stay home with his grandparents.

Randall, long recognizable in skiing for her pink hair (not related to breast cancer), will wear her personal brand of bright-colored socks with the words “It’s going to be … OK!” The motto helped her get through cancer treatment. She has sold 5,000 pairs on Kikkan.com, with $2 for each sale going to Aktiv.

Her blond hair grew back long enough that she can color it again before Sunday. She may also throw on glitter in a nod to a U.S. cross-country skiing team tradition started by Diggins, who brought levity to competition.

“It’s my way to celebrate what I can do, being grateful that my treatment has gone so well,” Randall said of running, “and in tribute to those who fought hard and did everything they could but ultimately didn’t get the positive outcome like I’ve had.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Tiger Woods back in contention for Olympic golf qualification

2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

1 Comment

At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, is her top remaining challenger in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round. No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who has three wins over Swiatek this year, withdrew before her third-round match due to illness.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw

2023 French Open TV, live stream schedule

0 Comments

The French Open airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points at Roland Garros in Paris.

Tennis Channel has live daily coverage with NBC and Peacock coming back for the middle weekend, plus the men’s and women’s singles semifinals and finals.

All NBC TV coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

It’s the first French Open since 2004 without Rafael Nadal, the record 14-time champion who is out with a hip injury and hopes to return next year for a likely final time.

In his place, the favorites are top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic, who is tied with Nadal for the men’s record 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men

No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland is favored to claim a third French Open title, a year after beating American Coco Gauff in the final. She bids to join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win the French Open three or more times since 2000.

The last American to win a major singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought matches the longest in history (since 1877) for American men and women combined.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open Broadcast Schedule

Date Time (ET) Platform Round
Sunday, May 28 5 a.m.-4 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
12-3 p.m. Peacock (STREAM LINK)
Monday, May 29 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
11 a.m.-3 p.m. NBC (STREAM) | Peacock (STREAM)
3-5:30 p.m. Peacock (STREAM LINK)
Tuesday, May 30 5 a.m.-5 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
Wednesday, May 31 5 a.m.-5 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Thursday, June 1 5 a.m.-5 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Friday, June 2 5 a.m.-5 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
Saturday, June 3 5 a.m.-1 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
12-3 p.m. NBC (STREAM) | Peacock (STREAM)
3-5:30 p.m. Peacock (STREAM LINK)
Sunday, June 4 5 a.m.-1 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
12-3 p.m. NBC (STREAM) | Peacock (STREAM)
3-5:30 p.m. Peacock (STREAM LINK)
Monday, June 5 5 a.m.-5 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
Tuesday, June 6 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
2-5 p.m. Tennis Channel
Wednesday, June 7 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
2-5 p.m. Tennis Channel
Thursday, June 8 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Tennis Channel Women’s Semifinals
11 a.m.-2 p.m. NBC (STREAM) | Peacock (STREAM)
Friday, June 9 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tennis Channel Men’s Semifinals
11 a.m.-3 p.m. NBC (STREAM) | Peacock (STREAM)
Saturday, June 10 9 a.m.-2 p.m. NBC (STREAM) | Peacock (STREAM) Women’s Final
Sunday, June 11 9 a.m.-2 p.m. NBC (STREAM) | Peacock (STREAM) Men’s Final