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Rare Disease Inspires Man's 63-Marathon Streak

Ultramarathoner Tim Borland set out last year with a goal for 2007: call attention to ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), a rare degenerative children's disease that combines the symptoms of cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis and cancer.

His answer: run a marathon every day for more than two months.

Borland's quest started on Labor Day with a half-marathon in Anaheim, Calif. — he ran it twice — and ended with Sunday's New York City Marathon. That's 63 marathons in 63 days. He logged some 1,650 miles in 26 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Montreal.

Borland formed the idea after meeting Catherine Achilles, who has been battling A-T all her life. He said he was inspired to raise awareness in her honor.

Borland ran most races while pushing a jogging stroller that was often occupied by a child or teenager with A-T.

Most marathon runners are told to take it easy after race day to avoid injury. Recovery plans recommend that marathoners go for light runs of a few miles in the days after the race. So how did Borland's body cope, when his recovery runs were 26.2 miles?

"The first weeks were tough," Borland said. However, he suffered no injuries beyond some soreness and some stomach problems. His body adapted, he said.

"It got easier and easier as the weeks progressed," he said.

He said he didn't even get blisters, nor did he endure extreme chafing, a problem that many runners experience when their clothes rub away skin on long runs.

"My body was made for it, I guess," he said.

"My body is capable of even more than I thought it was capable of," Borland said. "I was pretty amazed at my body's ability to adapt."

Borland discusses his experience with Michele Norris.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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