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Woman with MS plans to walk in 25th race Saturday



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Thousands of runners have been training for the Salt Lake Marathon and Half Marathon. One participant won't be running at all; she'll be walking the entire way, and she's proud she can even do that.

By looking at Karen Stewart, you wouldn't believe that just a few years ago she couldn't walk. "Looks can be deceiving," she said.

Stewart was diagnosed with MS in 1996. After years of being immobile, she decided to walk. "[I] just took off with my walker; 2001 did my first marathon in Portland, Oregon," she said.

She's since completed two more marathons and 21 half marathons. Saturday's Salt Lake City half marathon will make 25 completed races.

"You can live a healthy life in spite of this disease," Stewart said.

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.

"I have the most common type of MS," Stewart said. "I have spinal cord lesions, problems with my legs, balance and numbness."

Stewart keeps her MS in check by eating right, medication and lots and lots of walking. In 2008 she logged over 1,000 miles.

She says she's lost all her toenails at one time or another, and she'll probably go through four pairs of shoes this summer. She'll be sore, but it's better than being in a wheelchair.

"I don't ever want to forget where I've been. I could go back there. Hopefully I won't," Stewart said.

Saturday's race is just the beginning of Karen's 2009 walking season. She's got four more half marathons she's committed to this year.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

Amanda Butterfield

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