ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - It was when he got to the hills during the Boston Marathon that Marko Cheseto began to second-guess himself. The crowd started cheering. That's when Cheseto knew he had to pick up the pace.
"It's my therapy: Do it, it makes me good that I'm able to do the things I used to do prior to losing my feet," Cheseto said during a phone call from Boston Monday, "and also you know it's a way of sharing a story out there that however the situation could be, right now, we have that power that we can push ourselves."
Former University of Alaska Anchorage runner Cheseto, a double-amputee below the knees, finished with a time of 02:42:24. Cheseto tells Channel 2 it beats the previous record for an amputee by nearly 30 seconds. The previous record, he says, was 2:42:52.
Cheseto lost his legs in 2011. He had been upset about a friend's suicide, so Cheseto overdosed on pills and disappeared into the woods. The temperatures dropped during the two-day search for him. Cheseto later walked into a hotel but eventually lost both of his legs from the knees down from frostbite.
"His success story, him coming back from his adversity, I'm so proud of him his family and what he's doing," University of Alaska Anchorage cross country coach Michael Friess said about his former athlete.
Cheseto is already focused on the Boston Marathon for next year. That's when organizers will have three new para-athlete divisions in which athletes will have a chance to claim a full-fledged Boston Marathon victory and prize money.
"This is really, really big and (a) good story, good news for somebody like myself because it's opening an opportunity for the para-athletes where they can prove their ability in a major marathon like Boston and hopefully the other major marathons-- New York, Chicago (Marathons) could adopt (it)," Cheseto said.
Cheseto is famous, especially in Anchorage running circles. Runners break out into applause when they see him flying past them during races.
Skinny Raven employee Haley White, who's also training for the Boston Marathon, says she was up early Monday morning to watch the Alaskans in the race.
"I think it is easily the most amazing event of the year, as far as athletics go," White said. "In my opinion, it's just really like the marathon that everyone wants to do."
Cheseto says he started running as a child in Kenya to get to kindergarten. That led to a scholarship to UAA, becoming a four-time track All-American, two-time cross-country All-American, earning a Master's degree, and a health career.
"We have that power that we can push ourselves," Cheseto said. "If the mind doesn't want to do it, let the body do it. Just push your body, and the mind will be like, 'OK, I guess I will too.' "