RICHMOND, Va. -- When Chris Marston puts on his racing gear, he gets looks from passersby.
When you have Team USA on your jersey, it usually gets noticed.
Marston is training to represent the country as a triathlete, and the attention he gets now is far better than what he used to get as a teenager.
"I hobbled a lot when I ran," Marston recalled. "I did not have a very good gait or a very good running form. But my coaches pushed me to do my best and encouraged me to do what I could do."
Marston has cerebral palsy, and is training to compete in the 2024 Paralympics in Paris. And he's not a newcomer to physical activity either. Marston's parents encouraged his entire family to be active. For Chris, that came with its own set of challenges.
"I would try," Marston said. "But my difficulties always made me not quite up to where I wanted to be as a competitive person."
Marston eventually discovered he was good at distance running, even with his physical limitations.
And if he was good at running, maybe he'd be good at swimming and biking too.
"I don`t know that a rational person would say that's a really great idea," Marston said with a laugh. "And I think my wife would agree with you on that. I` 'm not the best at each one event But I'm average at each one. I can do well in each one. How can I do if I put them all together."
"Whenever he tells you about not being fast or not being elite, that's crap," added Sportable Executive Director Hunter Leemon. "He is incredibly fast, he is elite. He is on a journey that we`re proud to be a part of."
The triathlon distances for para-athletes are a 750-meter swim, 20k bike ride and a 5k run. With the help of Sportable, Marston was able to find resources to make his racing ability the best it can be from equipment to moral support.
"I can't squeeze the brake with my right hand," Marston explained. "I can't shift gears with my right hand. On the bike, I had to get everything modified."
"A lot of our folks don`t have the ability to interact particularly in this time with COVID and dealing with the pandemic" Leemon added. "That sense of community is great and I think that`s a big motivating factor for a lot of our folks."
The inspiration that Marston has given back to everyone at Sportable is immeasurable. And, he just completed 15 of his triathlons in 15 days to raise 15-hundred dollars for the organization.
What he gets out of it is a chance to better his lifestyle and reach goals that he might have thought unreachable just a few months ago.
"If I am stagnant a lot then my mobility does go down," Marston admitted. "I can't stretch my arms out as far and my leg doesn't want to move as easily."
"Beyond his personal goals and what he`s doing for his own health, for people within our organization to see what can be accomplished when they really put their mind to something, it`s awesome,," Leemon said.
Marston just keeps one goal in mind.
"I did better today than I did yesterday and I am better for it."
Marston met and surpassed his fundraising goal for Sportable, during which he swam 10 miles, biked over 300 and ran nearly 54. Unfortunately, the National Championships were canceled this year, so he won't have a chance to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics. That's why his sights are set squarely on Paris in 2024.
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