Rosedale res­i­dent re­turns to Run­ning Fes­ti­val af­ter re­cov­ery

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: GIANNA DECARLO gde­carlo@ches­pub.com

The 17th An­nual Bal­ti­more Run­ning Fes­ti­val will take over the streets on Saturday, October 21, bring­ing out over 20,000 ath­letes from all 50 states and dozens of for­eign coun­tries.

One such par­tic­i­pant is Chris Whyte, a Rosedale res­i­dent, who is get­ting back on a bike and par­tic­i­pat­ing in the race just a few years af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing spinal chord in­jury.

In May of 2015, Whyte was com­pet­ing in a triathlon in Vir­ginia and dur­ing the bik­ing por­tion of the course, a truck veered off the road and hit him. He fell into a ditch af­ter fall­ing head-first into a tree, frac­tur­ing sev­eral ver­te­brae and ribs.

He bounced from hospi­tal to hospi­tal, un­der­go­ing mul­ti­ple surg­eries as his shat­tered spine was re­placed with ti­ta­nium rods and screws be­fore be­gin­ning his ar­du­ous re­cov­ery at the Kennedy Krieger In­sti­tute.

For the past two and a half years, Whyte has been work­ing with a num­ber of skilled phys­i­cal ther­a­pists who have helped him to heal and once again al­lowed him to par­tic­i­pate in his fa­vorite things again, like bik­ing and run­ning.

“A lot of the great progress I’ve made has been sup­ported by the ex­cel­lent phys­i­cal ther­a­pists and my con­tin­u­ing phys­i­cal ther­apy at KKI, along with the won­der­ful com­mu­nity between ther­a­pists, doc­tors, nurses, ad­min­is­tra­tors, and fel­low pa­tients and team mem­bers,” said Whyte. “This has had a huge im­pact on my life and my fam­ily and I con­tinue to do my best to re­cover and try to in­spire oth­ers who are deal­ing with ad­ver­sity, as many fel­low team mem­bers have in­spired me.”

That is why Whyte is racing to raise money for the Kennedy Krieger In­sti­tute and, more specif­i­cally, their adap­tive sports pro­gram which al­lows in­di­vid­u­als of all abil­i­ties to par­tic­i­pate in team sports with su­per­vi­sion and the use of spe­cial­ized equipment to fur­ther their men­tal and phys­i­cal re­cov­ery.

“Ath­let­ics bring peo­ple to­gether, not only help­ing with phys­i­cal ex­er­cise, but also with be­ing part of some­thing so­cially with oth­ers,” he said.

For ex­am­ple, Whyte will act as an es­cort for a hand­cy­clist from KKI, an ath­lete who pow­ers a bike with their arms rather than their legs, dur­ing the fes­ti­val. Whyte will be the first for­mer KKI pa­tient to work as an es­cort.

Ac­cord­ing to KKI, the role of an es­cort is crit­i­cal for a hand cy­clist as it sup­ports the cy­clist—clearing out run­ners and us­ing the higher van­tage point to spot po­ten­tial haz­ards in the road.

As of press time, the KKI’s Bal­ti­more Run­ning Fes­ti­val Char­ity Team has raised over $60,000.

In or­der to get to the point where he could com­pete in run­ning fes­ti­vals, Whyte un­der­went a gru­el­ing reg­i­men that in­cluded aquatic ther­apy and work­ing out ev­ery day in or­der to gain back his full mo­bil­ity, strength, co­or­di­na­tion, and stamina.

“For me, I have a lot of hob­bies and in­ter­ests and be­ing able to walk and stand and be­ing able to be phys­i­cal has a ma­jor im­pact on what I’m do­ing,” said Whyte on how he has re­mained mo­ti­vated. “If I’m not keep­ing my­self as fit as I can, then th­ese things will be a chal­lenge. I don’t want to give up be­ing some­what ac­tive. I don’t want to sit around on the couch all day.”

He’s not a stranger to push­ing him­self. Just a few months af­ter his in­jury, he walked a 5k at the Run­ning Fes­ti­val in 59 min­utes.

“It wasn’t fast,” he laughs, “But at the time it was still un­be­liev­able.”

A year later, he jogged the same 5k in un­der 39 min­utes.

Bik­ing the en­tire 5k is this year’s goal and in prepa­ra­tion for this week­end’s event, Whyte has, nat­u­rally, been bik­ing a lot. He said at the start of the year he went on 5-6 mile long daily rides which had grad­u­ally in- creased into his cur­rent rou­tine, which is 21 miles a day at ap­prox­i­mately 15 mph.

And when this race is over, Whyte cer­tainly doesn’t plan to rest for too long. His next goal is to com­plete a triathlon next year.

CHRIS WHYTE

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF THE KENNEDY KRIEGER IN­STI­TUTE

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