UAA alumnus Marko Cheseto breaks records

You may remember the name Marko Cheseto as being one of the best runners UAA has ever had. Well, the continuation of his running career has landed him a spot amongst the fastest time for a marathon to be completed by someone with two prosthetic feet. Cheseto is the second double amputee to beat a 3-hour marathon, the first being Richard Whitehead of Great Britain in 2010.

Marko Cheseto came in 613 out of almost 53,000 runners at the New York City Marathon, says “I’m not too old now, but anyway, I would tell myself to enjoy life to the fullest and do things I love most as long as it’s legal. Additionally, help others grow their hidden potential.” Photo credit: Marko Cheseto

To top it off, three days after his win, Cheseto became an official citizen of the United States.

Cheseto transferred to UAA from Kenya in order to pursue cross country and was a stand-out runner from the beginning. He was the top runner in six cross country meets, finished in first place twice, finished second place three times and competed at the national meet.

His record breaking did not stop then, and Cheseto was the first male runner to have three individual GNAC titles and the first runner to have two West Region titles. In fact, one of his favorite memories is from the GNAC championships.

“It was the year I lost my shoe during GNAC championships,” said Cheseto. “I stopped to tie it and still won the race. The interesting part was seeing my coach’s face when he saw me way behind the leading group, and I was still smiling. He didn’t know what had just happened, but I knew I would catch up with them.”

Cheseto’s career took a pause during his last season at UAA when he had to get both of his feet amputated after a severe case of frostbite. His shoes, which were frozen to his feet, were removed and replaced with prosthetics.

“I did run after amputation. It was recreational,” said Cheseto. “I didn’t have any eligibility left. Running to me is therapeutic, makes me feel good. It’s also a healthy lifestyle for maintaining recommended body weight. I love running, so I don’t need a lot of motivation to do it. It’s embedded in me.”

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Since his amputation, Cheseto has gotten his undergraduate degree in nutrition and a graduate degree in science management. Over the summer, he moved from Anchorage to Orlando where he works at Prosthetic and Orthotics Associates.

“I was going to Orlando to have my feet fitted while living in Anchorage,” said Cheseto. “I chose Orlando because I have the support I need to succeed. Prosthetic and Orthotics Associates is my big support group. They took me as one of their own, which I am now.”

Cheseto plans to continue to break records.

“Before I retire from competitive running, I want to run a marathon with able bodied athletes,” said Cheseto. “The difference between me and the winner at New York is only 46 minutes. My coach and I are putting together a training plan towards cutting those 46 minutes. Might not be tomorrow or next year but it’s on the plan.”