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Without arms or legs, Chris Koch longboards for charity

Koch rode a 5K, 10K, half-marathon and full marathon in four consecutive days to raise money for the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation

Photo by: Chris Koch

Chris Koch had a busy weekend. On Thursday, he rode his longboard 5K in Saskatchewan, where he was farming. As soon as he finished, he showered, hopped in the car and drove the eight hours home to Nanton, Alta., where he rode 10K on Friday, a half-marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday. After all that, he was on his way back to Saskatchewan with his friends to return to working on the farm on Monday morning. Born without fully developed arms or legs, Koch hasn’t let that stop him from being active, and he completed the four rides as part of the Calgary Marathon’s virtual race with the hopes of raising $50,000 for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. 


Getting into racing  

Koch got into road racing in 2016. At the time, he was living part-time in California, and he and his girlfriend wanted to do a relay at the L.A. Marathon. Koch was denied by race organizers in L.A., who said he couldn’t ride his longboard in the race, and that was when Kirsten Fleming, race director of the Calgary Marathon, heard about him. She said he could race on his longboard in Calgary, and a few months later, he completed his first marathon. “I was hooked after that,” he says. Koch’s marathon on Sunday was his 10th crack at the distance, and his racing has taken him all around the world, including races in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. 

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“The marathons have been a neat excuse to travel,” he says. “That part of COVID-19 is unfortunate. I mean, there are a lot of things that are unfortunate about COVID. But I’m looking forward to when we can travel and do that stuff in person again.” Koch opened his 2020 season at the Dubai Marathon in January, where he rode to a 4:15:25 finish. He has a marathon PB of 3:54:16, which he recorded at the Servus Edmonton Marathon in 2019. Before the pandemic, his plan for this summer was to race the Calgary Marathon, but that, of course, couldn’t happen, but he signed up for four of the event’s virtual races instead. 


Virtual challenge

For this virtual challenge, Koch decided to set lofty goals, both in terms of the physical difficulty of the rides and his fundraising targets. He admits that raising $50,000 would be huge, but he believes he can do it. Plus, he has given prospective donors added incentive to help him reach that goal. 

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“I set the bar pretty high,” he says, “but if I hit $50,000 by August 29 at 6 p.m., I’ll wake up Sunday morning and do an ultra — 50K.” The Calgary Marathon also offers a 50K option, and if Koch does end up riding this distance (which would be his first ultra), he will have completed the event’s full race lineup. 

He says he heads out for rides most mornings to “bang out a few miles” before getting to work on the farm, and his training was especially important in the buildup to this challenge, which saw him ride 78K in four days. For the official rides themselves, he started them all quite early, and he says he endured some chilly mornings to get the challenge done.

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The Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation  

Koch has organized fundraisers before, supporting charities like The War Amps and the organization’s Child Amputee Program. This time, he decided to support the Alberta Children’s Hospital, which is where he got his first prosthetic limbs. 

“I spent a lot of time at the children’s hospital,” he says, “and I have a lot of friends and family who have unfortunately had kids admitted there. It’s a great organization and an amazing facility.” 

To learn more about Koch’s challenge and to donate, click here.