Preston Williams receives Marine Corps Marathon medal from fellow finisher

Frank Murphy, a former fellow firefighter, passed off his medal to Williams on Monday. Photo: Jennifer Donelan

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(WJLA) - Three weeks after completing the Marine Corps Marathon, a D.C. firefighter who is battling prostate cancer has a finishers medal, and he has a generous fellow runner to thank.

Preston Williams completed the Oct. 26 Marine Corps Marathon, his first such race, in 7 hours and 20 minutes, but by the time he got to the finish line, race officials were out of medals.

No worries, though - Williams was assured he'd get one in the mail. However, that didn't happen, because according to race policy, he was never issued a finishers medal because he didn't reach a specific point on the course by 12:35 p.m.

Those runners, by definition, didn't finish the course, according to a marathon spokesman.

"I made sure the cancer didn't stop me," Williams said. "I made sure the chemo didn't stop me."

That's where Frank Murphy stepped in to help Williams, who recently discovered that his cancer had come back for a third time. The Arlington resident and former Fairfax County firefighter was on the road when he read Williams story and felt compelled to act.

"For what he has gone through, what he is going through...7 hours and 20 minutes was a lot harder than probably anyone else running the race," Murphy said. "He deserves the medal."

On Monday, Murphy, whose father also suffered from prostate cancer, handed his medal off to Williams and was greeted with a bear hug. The circle of cancer survival is understood between one firefighter and another.

"I wasn't upset about not getting the medal," Williams said. "I knew in my heart I ran it, but I think I just wanted it more for the guys that have prostate cancer that are out there fighting it and pushing through it every day."

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