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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Breaking Barriers


"Act as if what you does makes  a difference, it does."-William James

Forty Five years ago Katherine Switzer did something no other woman had ever done before. She registered and ran the Boston Marathon.  Officials tried to pull her off the course because women were not allowed.  It was thought at one time that running anything more than 10K was dangerous for women. Woman were thought to be too fragile to run a marathon.

Women lobbied the Amateur Athletic Union and in 1972 women were allowed to enter the Boston Marathon,but they had to meet the same time standard as men.  Now the Boston Marathon is almost half women.  I was in 8th grade the first year women were allowed in.  In high school there was no woman's cross country team. The first woman on the team was in 1976 the year I graduated and it was considered an oddity. Katherine's run inspired other women to take up the sport and sparked a fitness and running revolution.  She gave other woman the chance to put one foot in front of the other and run a race of their own.  Every woman toeing the line in Boston or any marathon owes her an enormous debt.

I've been busy breaking barriers of my own. I am an engineer by education.  When I graduated less than 5% of engineers were woman.  Even still I think the number is less than 10%. So like Katherine I'm in a man's world.

Often in my career I am the only woman at the table during meetings.  I know the feeling of someone trying to pull me off the course.  Sometimes it's tough trying to break into the old boys club.  I know all about doing things no one expects and exceeding expectations.

I'm breaking barriers for CMT as well. When I went to the Sports Medicine Clinic at Froedert the head of Physical Therapy told my therapist she did not know of any treatments for runners with CMT because people with CMT can't run. People with CMT have been told n the past not to exercise too hard.  Especially not running.  Well we can and we do run.  While I may not be the first person with CMT to run Boston, I may be the first one to do it so publicly.

I've had several people tell me they have invisible disabilities like Lupus and Crohns. They feel someone is running for them and inspiring them. This team is already making a difference.

 I hope by giving a face to CMT to spark a revolution of our own. No one should carry a disease on one has ever heard of.  No one should told they shouldn't or can't be active. Many of us live with conditions no one can see, but present challenges every day.  We each choose how to react to our conditions.  I am not even sure what all this will mean or if it will make a difference. I bet Katherine didn't know when she ran her race the impact she would have either.  Here's to Katherine and here's to breaking barriers.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Running, triathlons, impaired athlete, paratriathlon, USAT, running and CMT



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