PHIL SHIN | South Pasadenan Spotlight

Cancer survivor and liver transplant recipient, Phil Shin, runs at Leadville 100

PHOTO: LA Marathon | The South Pasadenan | Phil Shin pictured with Justin and Kourtney Turner at the LA Marathon.

South Pasadenan, Phil Shin, is about to celebrate a very special anniversary by running in the Leadville 100, a 100-mile trek through the rugged Rocky Mountain terrain of Colorado. That, in and of itself, is a tremendous feat – but when you add that Shin is doing it in honor of the fourth anniversary of receiving a liver transplant and beating liver cancer – it is truly extraordinary.

Over the years, this South Pas Dad has become a local inspirational hero. He has served as South Pasadena’s AYSO registrar for four years, several years as a ref, is a former LA Marathon Ambassador, started the Friday Donut Running Club, and serves on the board for the Brave Like Gabe Foundation.

PHOTO: Sharon Shin | The South Pasadenan | Donor Mark Murphy with Phil Shin and friend Joel Stetler at the LA Marathon.

Shin has inspired so many with his story that he caught the attention of local documentarian, Myles Matsuno, who has been following him for the past year, documenting his training and interviewing his doctors, surgeons, friends, and family, and will be filming him when he crosses the finish line (in hopefully under 30 hours per Shin’s goal).

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PHOTO: Kristen Swift | The South Pasadenan | Phil Shin (center) pictured with his South Pasadena community on the steps of South Pasadena High School’s Anderson Auditorium.

The Leadville Race series began in 1983 with 45 runners and has grown into a world-renowned event  hosting thousands of tough-minded racers from around the world as they test their grit, guts and determination on foot and in the saddle. Shin has spent the week there acclimating himself to the altitude.

“I feel very good about my preparation for this race,” Shin tells us. “Much of that credit goes to my running coach, Adam, who I’ve been working with for the past 3 years and whom I consider a dear friend. I’ve run more miles and climbed more elevation than I have my entire life and feel extremely prepared for Leadville. It all just comes down to execution and making sure that I’m nourishing myself throughout the 30 hour event.”

Shin has beaten liver cancer twice and his friend, Mark Murphy, was his liver donor. Murphy is joining Shin in Leadville to cheer him on and show the cancer and transplant community what is indeed possible. “We can’t wait to see this all unfold,” says Shin. “Most of all I feel an extreme sense of gratitude for being given a renewed lease on life to attempt things that I ordinarily wouldn’t have even done before my cancer diagnosis. In my 4 years since my transplant, I’ve had the support of my wife, Sharon, and our son, Will, to inspire me to pursue so many life affirming challenges. Every mile I’ve run since my liver transplant has truly been a gift and my goal has been to use the running community platform to inspire and educate others on the incredible opportunities you can pursue post-transplant. I hope finishing a 100-mile race in the Colorado Rockies will further inspire that.”

PHOTO: provided by Sharon Shin | The South Pasadenan | At one of the BBQ fundraisers for Phil Shin.

His wife Sharon is one very proud and grateful spouse, saying, “he has accomplished so much in the past few years with his story. 9/11 will mark his fourth “liverversary”.” She goes on to say that the South Pasadena community has been a tremendous source of strength for both of them through this journey. “I met a lot of people through the Facebook South Pasadena Food Group that helped us by donating food and their time with a BBQ fundraiser for another race. Our community is incredible and giving. The recent fundraiser we had, I would say 50% of the orders were from our South Pas community, and the other half from Phil’s running community.”

PHOTO: Sharon Shin | The South Pasadenan | Phil Shin’s son, Will, cheers Phil on as he runs the Boston Marathon remotely during the pandemic.

Shin was treated at Keck USC and Sharon calls him “a poster boy for Keck USC. He has spoken to medical students at lecture halls, has been on numerous podcasts including “Holding Kourt”. His surgeon, Dr. Kaur, will also be at the finish line in Colorado.”

Shin will be representing the Chris Klug Foundation at Leadville. Klug is also a liver transplant recipient and former snowboard Olympian. Klug was the first liver transplant recipient to cross the finish line of the Leadville 100 bike race and he challenged Shin on air on his podcast to be the first liver transplant recipient to cross the finish line on foot. Sharon says, “so in Phil fashion, he accepted and has been training for a year for this weekend.”

PHOTO: provided by Sharon Shin | The South Pasadenan | Phil Shin (left) with family and friends cheering him on for the Boston Marathon, which he ran remotely during the pandemic.

Watch this space for more from Phil post race about Leadville and what’s next. You can follow his journey on Instagram @pshin8670