Giles running for a Purpose

Friday, January 6, 2012
Former Marshall County High School standout Heath Giles (left) will compete in the 2012 Boston Marathon in order to raise money for cancer research after his mother-in-law Earline Cathey (right) was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last June. Photo by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

The city of Lewisburg will be represented in the upcoming 2012 Boston Marathon when former Marshall County High School baseball standout Heath Giles competes in the 116th edition of the legendary race on April 16.

While Giles is not a lifelong distance runner like many of the people that plan to participate in the event, he chose to compete in the Boston Marathon in order to raise money for the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Cancer Research after his mother-in-law Earline Cathey was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June 2011. Mrs. Cathey is currently undergoing treatment in a clinical trial at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute.

A 1995 graduate of MCHS, Giles moved to Boston in July 2011 with his wife Jennifer where he works as a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital, which is a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

"We live so far away there's not a lot we can do to help. I wanted to do something for Earline and do something that's out of my comfort zone which hopefully will inspire her and help her fight through this," said Giles. "She has a real positive attitude because she is one of the most positive people that I know. The cancer treatment is tough though and it does wear you down."

Although he has never competed in a distance running event, Giles did not have to meet the Boston Marathon's qualifying time requirements and received an official entry to the event because he is a member of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute Marathon Team, which benefits the Claudia Adams Barr Program.

After admitting to never running more than a mile and a half before deciding to participate in the race, Giles began preparing for the event in September and had a training program set up for him by Anna Royer, who has competed in six Boston Marathons and was an intern for Giles while he completed a general surgery residency program at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.

"There was definitely trepidation about running a marathon, but there are certain goals to finish and the training gets easier because my endurance has increased," said Giles. " I do most of my running at night because of my work schedule. I've been following Anna's advice and I'm right on track in my training program."

Giles set a goal to raise $4,000 by April but hopes to exceed that number. Anyone interested in making a donation must go to the website, select the "Support a Runner" box, and then type in Giles name.

"The biggest thing is that we just wanted to reach out and do something to help. If there is anyone that has cancer or has a relative that has cancer, they can find my e-mail at and I will call them and run for them as well," said Giles. "I'm also running in memory of my grandmother Elizabeth Foster, my great uncle Ralph Derryberry, Dillard McGowan, and Barbara Neil. I just wanted to get the word out and let people know that someone from Lewisburg is running in the Boston Marathon."

Giles' progress during the race can be tracked on the Boston Marathon website, which is run by the Boston Athletic Association.

Best known for his exploits on the baseball diamond at Marshall County High School, Giles was a three-time All-State selection and helped lead the Tigers to back-to-back State titles in 1993 and 1994.

During his sophomore year, Giles hit a memorable two-run inside the park homerun in the bottom of the seventh inning against Brentwood Academy in the Sub State round of the playoffs to tie the game at 2-2. MCHS then pulled out the 3-2 victory over the Eagles in extra innings thanks to a RBI single by Giles in the bottom of the ninth.

In 1994, Giles came up with another clutch hit in the Sub State when drove in two runs with a single in the top of the sixth to give the Tigers a 3-2 road win over Waverly after Marshall County trailed 2-1 through the first five innings of play.

Giles then went on to play baseball at David Lipscomb University where he started all four years and was a three time All-Conference selection.

After graduating from David Lipscomb with a major in Kinesiology, Giles decided to go to medical school and took the prerequisite classes at Middle Tennessee State University for three semesters before passing the Medical College Admission Test.

"I was not allowed to major in Pre Med at Lipscomb because of baseball," said Giles. "I always enjoyed biology and chemistry in high school so it was an easy transition because it was something that I liked doing."

Giles was then accepted to the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis where he graduated with High honors in 2005.

Following a six-year residency program at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Giles passed the written and oral tests to become certified by the American Board of Surgery in August of 2011.

Giles is currently working at Brigham and Women's Hospital in order to become specialized in the area of endocrine surgery, which involves the thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands.

Hopefully Giles will have the same run of success in the Boston Marathon and the fight against cancer as he has had in his past endeavors.