The K Girls: Running Stronger Together
BOSTON – Kris and Kayla Biagiotti of Mendon, Mass., also known as “The K-Girls,” were almost the Boston Marathon’s first mother-daughter team to cross the finish line together. On April 15, 2013, Kris pushed her daughter Kayla’s wheelchair almost the entire 26.2 mile length of the race. Unfortunately, the abrupt end to the race cut off their run within sight of the finish line. The pair was so close that Kayla “thought folks were lighting off fireworks when we finished.”
But The K-Girls are not giving up. “I want to run for the Boston Strong Community and show support for the victims, those who did not survive, and keep the positive thinking that Kayla has had this past year,” said Kris about running the race again.
Due to the incredibly high turnout anticipated by the Boston Athletic Association, Kris will run the Boston Marathon solo this year. The safety concerns and potential lack of immediate access to her specialized medical personnel made Kris wary of running with Kayla. However, Kris is running the race to support her daughter and to raise awareness about Kayla’s medical condition, mitochondrial disease. She is sponsored by Credit Unions Kids at Heart and is running to benefit Boston Children’s Hospital, where Kayla has been treated her entire life.
Kayla has been in a wheelchair since age three, when she was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease – a condition that is often genetic and prevents cells from producing the energy they need to work properly. The body’s cells have trouble converting food. Unfortunately, there is no cure, and the disease can affect many different parts if the body, including the brain and nervous system. As if this isn’t enough for one family to bear, Kayla’s father and Kris’s husband passed away in 2005 after a severe heart attack. Kris has also endured a number of brain tumors over the years, making her avid marathon training with Kayla even more inspirational.
Anyone training for the Boston Marathon goes through grueling months of seemingly endless runs through winter weather. This year’s runners have battled the Polar Vortex and countless snowstorms. “Snow and safety on the roads has been quite the challenge,” said Kris. “I have resorted to finding neighborhoods with wide roads that are straight so that drivers can see me. It has been very boring and running loops is not fun.”
But, this is far from The K-Girls’ first race. “When I was in high school I was a sprinter, but never anything more than three miles. In 2002, after spending insurmountable time at Childrens for the first six years of Kayla’s life, I needed to lose weight and get myself back in shape,” explained Kris. “I was challenged to do a sprint triathlon… the sprint triathlon led to a 5K, then a 5-miler. Before you knew it, I did a half marathon. So in 2005 I did my first marathon, Boston! And it kept going! For my 40th birthday in 2007, I did a half ironman!”
Now, Kris has run the Boston Marathon seven times. One of her first races as a team with Kayla was in 2012, when The K-Girls completed the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon in Hampton, New Hampshire. And every year, explained Kris, The K Girls “host the Franklin 5K formerly known as the Run for Bob. It is in memory of Kayla’s dad who passed away at age 42. This is our 10th year and Team Hoyt will be joining us this year. It benefits the Hockomock YMCA and Best Buddies.”
It’s no surprise that The K-Girls have gained so much support and have developed such a dedicated following. All of Boston will be cheering for Kris this April, and she hopes to return to the course with Kayla for 2015.
Cameron Bruns is the founder of BostonGreenBlog.com and co-author of Just Us Gals Boston. She lives in Boston’s North End, where her goal is to promote ethical, stylish, and sustainable lifestyle choices to all Boston residents. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.