Every runner knows how hard it is to complete a marathon. No matter how hard you train, it’s always a monumental challenge on race day.
Canadian Chris Koch is all about challenges. The 37-year-old motivational speaker from Alberta who was born with no arms or legs, says he’s more afraid of regret than he is of failure. And that’s one of the reasons he took on the challenge of participating in the Calgary Marathon on May 29.
He pushed himself on a longboard through the 26.2-mile course with his partial right leg and reached the finish line in 4 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds. He admitted he finished faster than he thought, considering his half marathon PR is just under 2 hours. It was his first marathon, but he says it won’t be his last.
“The experience as a whole was absolutely incredible,” Koch said Friday by telephone. “Runners were very supportive. There were a lot of congratulations and support out there, both during the race as well as afterwards. I definitely felt like I was part of the group of runners out there.”
The first part of the course was hilly, which meant for strenuous climbs but fast descents. Koch said he made it a point to regulate his speed on the downhills so he didn’t get in the way of other runners.
“It was a lot of fun,” Koch told Canada’s Global News. “It was a pretty good workout; there were some good uphills that really took a lot out of me. I’m pushing with one leg, so my leg is pretty sore.”
Koch was denied entry to the Los Angeles Marathon in March (because the race organizers believed his longboard might cause safety issues), but when the Calgary Marathon got wind of it, he was immediately offered an entry.
Koch entered the race with the goal of raising $10,000 for Calgary’s Inn From The Cold, a homeless shelter geared toward providing children and families a platform to turn around their lives. (Interested donors can contribute to the fund through the end of June.)
“I wanted to do something for the city of Calgary and with the economic climate here in Southern Alberta being a bit softer, homelessness is a growing situation,” he said. “It’s great to do these challenges, but it doesn’t quite feel complete unless the support for the charity is realized.”
Koch has done several half marathons and has also climbed both the 627-foot Calgary Tower (802 steps) and Toronto’s CN Tower (1,815 feet, 1,776 steps). One of his next big adventures on the horizon will be a trek to Mt. Everest base camp next April to raise money and awareness for Nepalese people with disabilities.
“It was an amazing day that was made even better by having my girlfriend Ally, my mom, and other family in Georgie and Todd participating in the 10K,” Koch said on Facebook after his run. “An additional thank you to other friends and family that came out to support me. I also want to give a shout-out to fellow Nantonite, Andrea Glover who won the women’s division. Finally, a huge thank you to to everyone who has been so supportive in all that I’ve done. You’re all so incredible.”
Brian Metzler is the editor of Competitor.com and Competitor magazine.