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NH Marathon offers family a chance to raise awareness of little known disease

Katherine Steele, running the 10K in last weekend's N.H. Marathon event to promote awareness of a debilitating lung disease know as LAM, hugged and kissed her daughter Emma as she passed by the Kids Marathon starting line on Lake Street last Saturday. Dad Adam was also among the marathon runners. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
October 03, 2018
BRISTOL – Each year, participants in the N.H. Marathon come to Bristol from all over the country and beyond, bringing with them many stories. Some are reaching for personal goals in life, some are veterans running with flags or in combat gear to acknowledge their national pride and achievements, while others have challenges they hope to overcome.

This year, the Steele family was among those touching stories as they raced to bring awareness to a very personal cause.

Five years ago, Katherine Steele, a lifelong runner, was diagnosed with lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), and has fought ever since that day to beat the debilitating lung disease. While her parents, P.T. and Jane Hart call Bridgewater home, Katherine and her family now live in Hamilton, Va. Since her diagnosis, she has striven to maintain her physical wellbeing and signed on for a trial treatment for her disease at the National Institute of Health. As a result, her 10K run in this year's N.H. Marathon event came with a hope and a mission.

"I'm just trying to keep doing what I'm doing to bring awareness to LAM, and so far, I've raised $5,000 for the LAM Foundation. That can go a long way," she said last week.

Katherine has grown up with running as part of her life. Her dad, P.T., has served as a track and field coach for many years, and as an adult, Katherine and her husband Adam have enjoyed running as well, participating over the years in many running challenges. Adam has taken part in the Bull Run 50-miler in Clifton, Va. and decided this year to sign up for the N.H. Marathon. Their six-year-old daughter Emma opted to do the Kids Marathon, and mom Katherine set her sights on the 10K race.

As hundreds of runners gathered in Bristol last Saturday morning, Katherine and Adam prepared for their long runs while Emma set out to finish her own marathon challenge. The children's marathon, sponsored by Mid State Health and the Bristol Rotary, was a process where children up to 14-years of age were challenged to log their summer running efforts in an attempt to reach 25.2 miles over vacation. Last weekend they came together to run that final mile, making their total distance a 26.2-mile marathon run.

"I ran all summer with my mom," she said prior to the start.

This year, Emma was among 35 young runners who took part in the Kids Marathon. Before their race got underway though, they lined up at their starting spot at Mill Stream Park on Lake Street and cheered on adult runners, who in turn cheered them on as well.

"Good luck today," many said as they gave high-fives to the children.

Emma kept her eyes pealed on the crowd though and finally got not only a high-five from her dad, but a big hug and kiss from her mom as she set out on the 10K run.

"Go mom, go," she cheered as Katherine Steele stepped back out onto the course.

Emma's grandfather trailed her for a bit as the kids headed out on their last marathon mile, but this time, he couldn't keep up with her

"She was passing people left and right the whole way," he said with pride.

When, one by one, the children arrived at the finish line in Kelley Park, they received huge cheers then gathered for awards.

As for Emma, she finished first in her age group with a personal best time of 7:43.

"I ran the whole way," she exclaimed as she stepped over the timing mat.

After receiving a medal and trophy for her efforts, she, her one-year-old sister Sloane and their grandparents then watched for Katherine and Adam to arrive, cheering them each on as they crossed the finish line.

Considering her challenges, Katherine said she was excited about her results.

"I finished my 10K in 1:30:38 and ran 14:36 mile splits. Since 15-percent of my lungs are occupied by cysts, I'm just thrilled that I managed six consecutive sub-15 minute miles," she said.

Like little Emma, who amazed both her parents and grandparents with her results, dad Adam had a personal best time of 3:47:10 in the marathon, finishing an impressive 24th overall.

Katherine said she was excited to see her family perform so well in the event and was thrilled they could be part of the day.

"I've never seen such enthusiasm and there couldn't have been a better setting for this race," she said. "I'm just trying to keep doing what I'm doing and bring more awareness to LAM."

To support in Katherine Steele's mission to promote research and treatments for LAM, please visit their Web site, www.lamfoundation.org.

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