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28-Inch Woman Finishes Marathon

April 16, 2001

HOPKINTON, Mass. (AP) _ There was nothing diminutive about Katie Lynch’s marathon.

As her purple sneakers crossed the finish line _ a full 26.2 feet from the start _ tears trickled down her face and the crowd erupted in cheers.

``I was nervous like any other marathoner, but it was a good nervous energy,″ said Lynch, who at 26 weighs only 35 pounds and is 2-foot-4.

``I don’t think it could have been more satisfying,″ she said.

Lynch has a unique, unidentified form of dwarfism and is afflicted with circulatory problems and back pain. She gets around mostly with a wheelchair or walker.

Yet on Monday, she dressed as any marathoner would _ with a baseball cap, sneakers and racer number 2001 pinned on her shirt _ and took her mark at the starting line.

Leaning on a tiny walker with wheels, and supported on either side by two brothers, she walked the first 26.2 feet of the Boston Marathon route, which begins in Hopkinton, 26.2 miles from downtown Boston.

``It was the most amazing thing,″ she said.

Lynch was only 13 inches long and weighed 4 pounds, 13 ounces when she was born. Doctors wrongly diagnosed her as retarded and predicted she would die young.

But her parents tried to provide a normal family life, and Lynch graduated with honors from high school, where she managed the women’s indoor track team and wrestling team. She graduated summa cum laude from Regis College and now works at Boston Children’s Hospital as an advocate for sick children, their parents and siblings.

She also moonlights as a motivational speaker, championing the cause of the physically challenged.

Lynch had been training for her marathon by walking 100 feet, in 10-foot increments. She had hoped to finish her 26.2 feet in 15 minutes; she actually completed it in less than 1 minute.

``With Katie, you never know what to expect,″ said her brother, Wyeth Lynch, 24. ``She surprises us all the time.″

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