Runner Defies ALS to Compete in His First 5K Race

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by Wendy Henderson |

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Kip Fontana was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2010 and was told by his doctors that he had between three and seven years to live — but Kip had different plans. Seven and a half years later, he has just competed in his first 5K race.

MORE: Living with ALS: Chris Mehess’s story

According to a report in “Runners World,” the 59-year-old decided he would enter the Les Turner ALS Foundation’s Strike Out ALS race in Chicago. To prepare, he set a training schedule that consisted of running three times a week and weight training twice a week

Due to the progression of the disease, Kip has lost most of his upper body strength and he discovered he had little control over his arms when running. The resulting flapping was disrupting his running form so he created an ingenious device using exercise tubing and foam padding which would comfortably hold his arms away from his body while he ran.

Despite his dedication and his innovative device, training did not always go smoothly. A fortnight before the race, Kip complained of aching hips and an X-ray revealed he had severe arthritis. However, his plan was not to be thwarted so close to the race, so he rested up for a few days and resumed training.


The event was held on July 15 and was very well attended, with more than 600 runners participating and raising more than $50,000. Kip ran an amazing race and clocked up an impressive time of 46:14 although he suffered towards the end when he lost control of his neck muscles. Luckily Kip’s daughter Kara was also competing in the race and caught up with her dad and the two were able to cross the finish line together.

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