It was a monumental week for Marko Cheseto, a double amputee runner who lost his feet to frostbite in 2011. Not only did he finish his first marathon since having his feet amputated, but he became a U.S. citizen.
The 35-year-old, who was born in Kenya and became an All-American at the University of Anchorage, ran the NYC Marathon on prosthetic legs in a blistering 2 hours, 52 minutes and 33 seconds. That’s 6:35 per mile, and ten minutes off from setting a world record for a double-amputee.
“I was happy with my time,” Cheseto told the Associated Press. “My biggest challenge was going over the bridges, and sharp inclines. (It) is not an easy course running with blades, the last 0.2 was the hardest, after crossing Mile 26 mark, I was so ready to be done, and I couldn’t see the finish line.”
This is @MarkoCheseto racing in yesterday’s @nycmarathon. He finished with a remarkable time of 2:52:33! He was joined by dozens of #TeamCAF athletes & supporter who gave it their all to cross the finish line of this iconic race. 👏Congratulations to all! pic.twitter.com/ZTZSSknQbw
— CAF (@CAFoundation) November 6, 2018
The performance came seven years after Cheseto went out into the woods in Alaska for a run, trying to cope with the suicide of William Ritekwiang, his cousin and fellow Anchorage runner from Kenya. Cheseto disappeared for 55 hours without gloves or a hat, and says he doesn’t remember a thing.
“Depression impedes memory, so it is possible Cheseto was trying to end his life. It’s also possible his medications played a role in his decisions that day: Certain antidepressants have been linked to increased thoughts of suicide, and an overdose can cause agitation, restlessness, unusual drowsiness, and sudden loss of consciousness, according to the Mayo Clinic—all of which Cheseto experienced,” according to Runner’s World. “What he does remember is that he was under a lot of pressure, in some kind of fog, and feeling real pain. And the two things that helped him put his trouble behind him were pills and running.
He returned to campus with severe frostbite on his hands and feet, the latter of which were amputated above his angles.
He was fitted for prosthetic legs and picked up running again 18 months after the scary ordeal. Since then, he graduated, began working as a coach for the University of Anchorage cross-country and track and field teams, got married and had three children. But, the one thing he felt was missing was his American citizenship.
However, within days of his outstanding showing in New York, he became a U.S. citizen.
“This week has been an amazing,” he said in an Instagram post.
His next goal: Run with the elites in a major marathon. And who’s to say he won’t get there?