Collin Jarvis: No colon and still rollin'

Tanner Cook • Updated Aug 14, 2017 at 8:13 AM

Collin Jarvis’ twitter handle before he had major surgery to remove his large intestine was “@Collinoscopee.” Ironic, isn’t it?

Jarvis is a 2015 graduate of the University of California at Berkeley where he was a standout in multiple running distance events, ranging from the 800 meters all the way up to 10,000 meters. His accolades include Pac-12 3,000 meters steeplechase champion and a scorching 5,000 meters personal best of 13:42, which is roughly averaging 4:25 per mile. He also holds a stellar personal best of 4:02.98 for the mile.

He now resides in Johnson City, where he is the vice president of marketing and operations at Stealth Belt, a locally based company whose goal is to help people like Jarvis live their lives without any restrictions. A Stealth Belt is an active ostomy belt that basically acts as the user’s large intestine.

In 2013, Jarvis had a health scare with ulcerative colitis, which he ultimately lost. Ulcerative colitis is an aggressive form of inflammatory bowel syndrome that affects mainly the colon and the rectum. In losing his battle with the disease, he had to have surgery to remove an eight-foot section of his large intestine. This procedure is commonly referred to as an ileostomy.

“After I graduated from school and I had the surgery, I wanted to stay involved and help people,” he said. “I used that goal of getting back to a healthy lifestyle and found some investors who agreed with what I was saying. They helped me realize my vision.”

Jarvis said after a few months of searching, he found a local company that makes ostomy belts that can help people like Jarvis stay healthy and active after the major surgery.

Recovery for him was not an easy process. In fact, he had to take one year off from running completely to recover and regain his strength.

Jarvis’ job as vice president of marketing and operations is to help people that use the Stealth Belt tell their stories. For instance, NASCAR Truck Series driver Ray Ciccarelli uses a Stealth Belt and is sponsored by the company. Another example is Texas Rangers pitcher Jake Diekman, who no longer has an ostomy belt because he had the reverse surgery, but he did use the belt for an extended period of time.

“About six months after my surgery, I had a really bad E. coli infection in my spleen and pancreas and almost lost both of those organs, but thankfully the antibiotics took and I was able to recover,” he said. Jarvis said that trying to do anything active for the first few months was almost impossible. Nowadays, it is just the opposite.

Jarvis has returned to near full capacity of training and has found many running partners around Johnson City, including the cross country team at East Tennessee State University. He said he did not believe that the running community in the local area would be as strong as it is after coming from a very rich running tradition in California.

Since returning from his surgery, Jarvis has had standout performances such as a 10th-place finish at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, where he ran 1:08:22, an average of 5:13 per mile. Jarvis has also competed in the prestigious Boston Marathon.

“The main thing that I deal with in training that is a challenge is staying hydrated,” he said. “The large intestine is responsible for taking water from the food and then absorbing it. I have to drink about 30 percent more water than I would on a daily basis if I did have a large intestine.”

Jarvis said he has many goals for himself now that he is training hard and at a high level again.

“My primary goal, in terms of running, is to beat one of my personal best times from before I had the surgery,” he said. “It’s a fairly lofty goal because I had run some pretty good times, but I feel like it is a possibility. I want to say that I have improved from where I’ve been and that I am better than I ever was.”

“Beyond just the time goals, I want to enjoy running. It has given me a lot. Both, in terms of the community that it comes with and the work ethic that it has given me that I otherwise would not have,” he said.

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