Asthma sufferer Consolo to run in Marietta’s half marathon
MARIETTA — In its third year, the Marietta McDonald’s Half Marathon this Saturday will welcome a unique and inspiring competitor.
Kitty Consolo has suffered from lifelong asthma but, paradoxically, is also a champion marathon runner. She’s coming to Marietta for the 10K, along with her own medic.
Consolo, in another seeming paradox, is an associate professor in health sciences at the Ohio University Zanesville campus specializing in exercise physiology, a subject with which she has considerable first hand experience. Now 61, she has been a runner since her youth, overcoming the challenges of breathing, which she discovered from a physician she met at a marathon is the result of a condition called exercise-induced asthma.
“We’re excited to see her and meet her,” half marathon organizer Brian Anderson said. “There’s a lot of motivation there; she’s a great example to follow.”
Consolo, a Granville, Ohio, resident who also is extensively published and offers motivational speaking services, said she hasn’t always gotten a warm welcome from marathons and running events.
“Four years ago, I got a note from a race director asking me not to come,” she said. Organizers sometimes fear liability, but when she applied for entry in the Wheeling Half Marathon Classic several years ago the race assigned her a medic who made a life-changing suggestion, that she blend her asthma medication with inhaled oxygen for quicker and more thorough effect.
“Every time I raced I’d have trouble breathing for three days afterward,” she said. “That idea changed everything. Now I’m back to normal in a few hours.”
Consolo began her running career 44 years ago, and broke ground by running on the men’s cross-country team at Wake Forest University, which the following year established a women’s team. She won the Cleveland marathon in 1982 and 1985 and has competed several times in the Boston and New York marathons, although now she runs the shorter 10K course at most events.
“I tried a marathon in 1998 in Columbus, but by 24 miles I just couldn’t breathe anymore,” she said.
In 2017, she won her age group in 11 of the 12 races she’s competed in, ranging from 5K to half marathons. This year she finished first in her group in the Tyler Light’s 5K in Pickerington, Ohio, with a time of 25:27.
She said she’s looking forward to running in Marietta, although the humidity from the Ohio River might present a breathing challenge. In recent years she’s developed some hip and knee ailments, so she’s wary of uneven pavement, she said.
“A lot of races have been taken over by charity events, and they tend to forget what runners need, like water stops, but Brian’s got it very well set up; it’s a great course and they’ve got some great awards,” she said. “I’m really excited about coming to Marietta.”
Anderson said proceeds from this year’s run will go toward completing the work on Gold Star Park, a city park dedicated to memorializing the families of service men and women who died while on active military duty.
For competitors and participants, the event offers a half marathon, 10K, 5K and one-mile races, for runners or walkers, with registration fees ranging from $55 to $20.
Anderson noted that a private donor has underwritten entry fees for up to 35 children to enter the one-mile dash without having to pay.
The races start with registration at 8 a.m. Saturday at Don Drumm Stadium, which will serve as the start and finish point. Advance registration is available at runsignup.com/Race/Ohio/Marietta/MariettaMcDonaldsHalfMarathon, and a special night-before registration will be held in the lobby of the Lafayette Hotel from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday. Runners can also register the morning of the race at the stadium.
So far, registration looks to be on par with last year, when about 350 runners signed up, he said.