A former University of Alaska Anchorage runner who lost both of his feet to frostbite in 2011 ran his first marathon and became an American citizen last week.

Marko Cheseto, 35, finished 613th overall out of nearly 53,000 runners at the New York City Marathon, the Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday. Two days later, he became a U.S. citizen.

Cheseto, who is from Kenya, went to Anchorage in 2008 on an athletic scholarship, quickly earning honors in track and cross country.

Grieving the death of another Anchorage runner from Kenya, Cheseto disappeared in the woods near campus in November 2011 — his senior year of school. Temperatures dipped to single digits, and it snowed more than a foot.

On the third day he was missing, Cheseto stumbled back with his shoes frozen to his feet, resulting in amputations.

Fitted with a pair of running blades, Cheseto began running again 18 months later. He graduated from the university, got married and had three children. He remained in Anchorage until his move to Orlando, Florida, earlier this year to work and train at Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates.

Cheseto finished the marathon last week in 2 hours, 52 minutes, 33 seconds — about 10 minutes off the world record for a double-leg amputee.

"I was happy with my time," Cheseto said. "My biggest challenge was going over the bridges, and sharp inclines. (It) is not an easy course running with blades, the last 0.2 was the hardest, after crossing Mile 26 mark, I was so ready to be done, and I couldn't see the finish line."

Cheseto said one of his goals "is to run with elites in one of the major marathons." He's also aiming for marathon time under two hours and 10 minutes.

Stan Patterson, the head prosthetist at Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates, said he believes the goal is achievable.

"The ultimate goal is to break the overall world record and finish a marathon in less than 2 hours. We believe that Marko is the man to do it," Patterson said.


Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com