Runner overcomes new obstacle

Crohn’s threatened athletic career, but determination overcomes

By Lindsey Williams |

Like most college athletes, determination and winning are the name of any game. But unlike most athletes, the balance between fighting a disease and fighting to win have become part of the game for one Flagler cross country runner.

Ryan MacManus has found himself competing on two fronts ever since being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn’s Disease is a lifelong inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Parts of the digestive tract get swollen and have deep sores called ulcers. Painful abdominal cramps, fatigue and fever are common symptoms.

Along with painful symptoms, Crohn’s disease can lead to complications including an obstruction of the intestine due to swelling and the formation of scar tissue.

MacManus’s battle with this disease began in 2006 when he started experiencing one of the more common symptoms, constant fatigue.

“I had a suspicion that something was very wrong,” he said.

The matter caught extreme attention when MacManus placed last at the University of Florida’s race in 2006.

“When that happened, my parents urged me to get blood tests,” MacManus said.

Tests showed that not only was MacManus anemic, but he also had Crohn’s disease — not exactly the best news for an athlete accustomed to winning.

Upon diagnosis, MacManus feared not the intestinal difficulties he would face, but the inability to do what he loves most: running.

“Being red-shirted — not being able to run, until the end of the season — was the toughest,” MacManus said.

“It was so frustrating, but it just made me want to run even more.”

This year, MacManus was named the Division II Independent Collegiate Athletic Association’s Runner of the Year.

He was also selected to the All-ICAA team for the second consecutive season. It is clear that this taxing condition is no match for this athlete’s determination.

New obstacles that lay before him have proven instrumental in his quest to succeed even further.

MacManus explains that his metal state has been made stronger as a result of the diagnosis.

MacManus expects nothing more than to continue running with endurance — both in the name of winning the race and the disease.

“This is a game that is 90% mental and 10% physical,” said MacManus.

“With anything in life, it’s just mind over matter.”

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