Rosedale resident returns to Running Festival after recovery
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.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE KENNEDY KRIEGER INSTITUTE