Originally from Nanton, Alta., Chris Koch was born without fully developed arms or legs. Despite what would seem an obvious limitation, he has been an active farmer for his entire life and even noted that he was just home to help complete the fall harvest. He travels frequently to do motivational speaking and more recently, he has taken to the streets with a longboard to participate in a number of running events. We spoke to Koch who is back in Santa Monica, California where he lives with his girlfriend, Ally.
#SundaySelfie from the @johndeere #combine with a #SelfieStick I had a hell of a time operating. ? Driving a combine without arms and legs is a piece of cake compared to operating that selfie stick. But I got one decent photo so it wasn’t all bad. Also nice having @mirandalambert aling singing ne songs. ? #ifican #ChrisTheFarmer #harvest2016 #harvest #JohnDeere #Torquay #Saskatchewan #farming #farmlife #agriculture #aglife @lonelyplanet @lucky_fin_project @iamadaptive @supersoul @owntv @theellenshow @tentree
Since making his marathon debut in Calgary (where he garnered plenty of media attention), Koch has received numerous invitations to running events across the country and afar. He was quick to agree to take part in this year’s Canada Army Run–which he did for the first time–knowing that it supported our Canadian Armed Forces and specifically raised funds for Soldier On and Military Families Fund. Koch has long been a champion of various charities including the War Amps which he notes was started by veterans following the second World War.
Koch summarized his experience in Ottawa as “absolutely incredible.” He was impressed with the event’s exceptional organization which he described as “first class and top notch.” He was invited to take part in the event’s pre-race pasta dinner which is served military field kitchen style. There, he spoke to several thousand participants who were extremely moved and inspired by his story and his persistently positive “can-do” attitude.
— Bonnie Murphy (@BonnieMurphyqr) September 18, 2016
Koch noted how the event made him feel proud to be a Canadian and which really roused a sense of national pride in everyone. He was also impressed, almost overwhelmed, by the presence and participation of Canada’s Armed Forces who competed, volunteered and showed their support for the event. He also praised the presence of Governor General David Johnston, the Commander of the Canadian Army Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk and the Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan.
Koch was part of a select group of participants who took part in the ‘Commander’s Challenge,’ which was new to the 2016 event. It meant running both the 5K and the half-marathon on the same morning. Koch impressively completed the challenge clocking 32 minutes for 5K and 2:05 for the half–although he noted he probably could have broke two (hours) if not for having to brake on the downhill sections to stay in control of his longboard.
Next up for Koch is the Modesto Marathon in California in March which he is looking forward to training for together with his girlfriend. He’s also beginning to welcome the idea of competing more internationally and even eluded to potentially racing on all seven continents.
Ultimately Koch’s goal is simple: to inspire others to challenge the notion of what’s possible and to push their boundaries to do more. He does this by leading by example and showing others like him who are differently-abled that being active and accomplishing great things is an option to them too. He also hopes to motivate those who are able-bodied and believes that “if I can do it, so can you.”