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Bay View woman with neurological challenge trains for dream marathon

Feb. 23, 2012

Running can be an emotional experience for dedicated athletes. One Milwaukee Baby Boomer was driven to tears when she learned that she was accepted to run the 2012 Boston Marathon in the Mobility Impaired division.

Chris Wodke, a Bay View resident, runs with CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a degenerative neurological disorder that affects 2.6 million people worldwide. Often hereditary, as it is in Wodke's case, exercise was once thought to exacerbate CMT. Don't tell that to the Milwaukee-area engineer and the members that comprise TeamCMT.

"The notion that ALL persons with CMT should not exercise clearly contradicts the available evidence; unfortunately, such advice appears to be the byproduct of defensive medicine," said Robert Chetlin, Ph.D., CSCS at the West Virginia School of Medicine who is working with Wodke to create a training program to best help her prepare for the April 2012 race.

"Individualized exercise prescription for CMT patients has demonstrated improvements in strength, muscle size and quality, and functional ability. Furthermore, the noted beneficial changes in strength are positively correlated to improved performance of daily living activities."

Only 15 of the more than 20,000 participants in the 2011 marathon ran in the Mobility Impaired Division. Qualifying times and doctors' reports are required and reviewed to qualify.

Medical issues aside, Wodke is just thrilled to be able to participate in what she called the opportunity of a lifetime for anyone who runs.

"I've run events throughout the world, and the Boston Marathon has long been my goal," Wodke said. "I know I won't be able to run forever, so I'm going to do my best to take the best physical advantage of this while we also share our knowledge about CMT. We want to let people who suffer know that they don't have to succumb to sedentary lifestyles."

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