San Francisco marathon participant says run is ‘worth the hurt’ 

Running has taken a high toll on Kristy Seymour, but it never occurred to her to quit.

“I’m not going to give up,” the 32-year-old Princeton, N.J., native vowed Sunday after completing the San Francisco Marathon. “It’s part of who I am.”

That resolve came in handy as Seymour sped up and down The City’s slopes to finish the race with an unofficial time of 3:37:19.

Seymour has overcome obstacles that most runners never face. In fact, her running career began with a tragedy. She took up running in 2000, after her aunt, a long-distance runner, was killed by a drunken driver while training near her home in Kansas City.

“I guess it just sort of inspired me to carry on her legacy,” Seymour said. “I just decided to start running little by little — half a block, a block.”

She worked her way up to marathons, running in cities all over the United States. But two years ago, after the Boston Marathon, Seymour began to feel excruciating pain in her calves whenever she ran.

She was diagnosed with compartment syndrome, a rare disorder in which the leg muscles become pressurized during exercise. The painful syndrome can cause permanent damage to muscles, nerves and blood vessels.

Doctors told her she would have to have invasive surgery or stop running. She chose surgery.

“My legs are not pretty,” she said. “Lots of big scars because they had to do it three times.”

After one operation, Seymour contracted MRSA, a dangerous bacterial infection. Then, while she was training after another operation, a Siberian Husky attacked her, sinking its teeth deep into her thigh.

“So I have another big scar on my leg,” she said. “But they say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Seymour said the San Francisco Marathon’s slogan, “Worth the Hurt,” made sense to her. “It was just hill after hill after hill,” she said. “I’ve done marathons all over the country, and this was the hardest.”

Now she is looking forward to taking a few days off from running to be a tourist.

“The architecture is amazing,” she said as she and her mother looked for lunch in the Marina district. “It’s nice to see it when I’m not running.”

acrawford@sfexaminer.com

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Amy Crawford

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