A former standout runner from UAA’s cross country and track and field teams will be competing in the 2019 Boston Marathon on April 15. Marko Cheseto competed for the Seawolves between 2008 and 2010, accumulating numerous records and awards until his running seasons were temporarily halted due to his double leg amputation.
During his 2008 season, he was honored as the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Cross Country Male Athlete of the Year. He earned two first-place finishes and three second-place finishes during his season. He also earned All-American, All-Region and All-Conference recognition.
In 2009, Cheseto earned All-Region, All-Conference, GNAC Male Athlete of the Year and West Region Male Athlete of the Year.
In his final season at UAA, he earned All-Region, All-Conference, All-American, All-Academic, GNAC Male Athlete of the Year and West Region Male Athlete of the Year.
In 2011, Cheseto suffered a double leg amputation below his knees. After that, he explained that for nearly four years, he trained primarily for the shorter distances, including the 100, 200 and 400 meters. The change was extreme, compared to his previous success seen in both the 5,000 meter (13:58) and 10,000 meter (29:08).
In November of 2018, Cheseto changed things up again. He competed in his first marathon since his amputation, the New York City Marathon. He finished the race in 2:52.33.
Cheseto was both surprised and thrilled with his results from the marathon. His personal success funneled into motivation for his future.
This set the world marathon record for double bilateral amputees. At the time, Cheseto was just planning to run a sub-3 hour. Now, he plans to run a sub-2:30.
In order to obtain his goals, Cheseto has been putting a lot of time and effort in to make sure everything goes smoothly. The obstacles he has faced are both mental and physical, but he is open-minded and prepared.
“I have been putting in lots of miles, long runs and some strength workouts. Obviously, my first goal is to finish it. It’s predicted that the race day will be cold. I will run my race and see if I can run faster than New York,” Cheseto said.
However, despite his goals for the 2019 marathon, he has his sights set on the 2020 race.
“Boston is having elite para section in 2020. This is an opportunity for growth and career path in athletics for those with physical disabilities,” Cheseto said.
The addition of a para-athletic section to the Boston Marathon was officially announced during a press conference held by the Boston Athletic Association in early April.
This addition of this category will allow para-athletes to compete for both category titles and prize money. Cheseto believes this is a huge turning point for para-athletes like himself.
Despite the 2020 changes to the Boston Marathon, Cheseto first has to get through the 2019 marathon on April 15.