There was no shortage of people crossing the finish line at the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon on Sunday but one person did so a little differently: without the use of his arms and legs.
Chris Koch did just that.
The Nanton man was born without arms or legs but that didn’t stop him from completing the Calgary Marathon in four hours and 28 minutes.
He gets around with a longboard. Half of his body is supported and moving with it while the other half pushes it.
The fastest time was two hours and 21 minutes but Koch was able to cross the finish line in just two more hours.
Koch sped by a lot of the competition but said he could have passed even more participants.
“On the uphills I’d have people passing me. On the downhill (though), I could’ve just let it go and blew past people but I didn’t want to be disrespectful,” he said.
“It was a lot of fun. It was a pretty good workout; there were some good uphills that really took a lot out of me,” Koch said. “I’m pushing with one leg, so my leg is pretty sore.”
Koch had planned on taking part in the half marathon in Los Angeles earlier this year, but the organizers said his longboard presented a safety issue. The Calgary Marathon, however, welcomed him with open arms.
“This is what it takes sometimes, you have to show people,” Ally Iseman, Chris’ girlfriend said. “People want to be able to see it and then it’s easier to trust and expand those horizons. It’s definitely out of our comfort zone, so it’ll be cool to see where this goes.”
Koch said the hills were the toughest part, but the crowds cheering him on made all the difference.
“Amazing,” he said. “When you come around that corner and everybody’s in the grandstand, the first person I saw was mom so that was pretty cool – and then Ally
“When I saw him turn around the corner at the end, I was so so so proud of him and inspired,” Iseman said.
After completing the marathon to cheering crowds, Koch and his girlfriend returned the favour and cheered on runners in the five-kilometre run.
“It’s not to guilt people – ‘because I have arms and legs you should be able to do whatever’ – it’s just making the most of whatever situation you’re in,” Koch said. “We all have a story and will have to embrace who we are and what we are and just get out there and make the most of this life.”
There was a huge turnout for the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon on Sunday.
Now in its 52nd year, around 10,000 runners took part in what is the longest running marathon in Canada.
The annual charity run attracts runners of all abilities, including elite athletes.
More than $750,000 was raised this year for 85 local charities.