Barrett conquers marathons, cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis hasn't done anything to slow down Matt Barrett.

Monroe native Matt Barrett's a distance runner who's defying the odds with every stride. He won the Med City Marathon in Rochester, MN in 2:29:16. He won the Waunafest ten-mile run in just more than 50 minutes. And he's doing it all with cystic fibrosis. Barrett, 32, was diagnosed with CF when he was nine months old.

The old research discouraged activity and consistent exercise, but now more exercise can be beneficial.

"Running is part of the therapy," Barrett said. "As fun as it is, how many people can say my therapy is to go out for a run?"

Barrett's caregiver, Brook LaChance, agrees with the new-school therapy that includes more movement. "We actually promote exercise as one form of airway clearance. And the fact that he's running and exercising the way that he is. He's really mobilizing his own secretions and helping himself quite a bit."

Matt's wife Jess is also a distance runner, and she says Matt's an inspiration every time he lines up for a race.

"It's amazing to see anybody running at such a high level. With the elite people out there," Jess said during one of Matt's training sessions. "A lot of times I don't even necessarily even think about the fact that he has cystic fibrosis. I know Matt as a runner as a person who has CF, not defined by CF. But when you do think about that, it's like, wow. This person is really incredible."

Matt's personal best marathon time is 2:23:09. He's running the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December, and he'll need to run 2:19:00 or better to earn a spot at the February's Olympic Trials.

"I just hope that if people hear my story it inspires them to be active or chase a dream," Barrett said after a training run. "Because at the end of the day, the way research is going and if you stick to your treatment plan and you have that positive attitude I think anything can really happen."

"It's amazing that he can do that," LaChance said. "I think it really shows that if you push yourself. For any of us to run marathons is an accomplishment. The fact that he's doing it with a lung disease is probably unheard of almost."