He dropped an amazing 475 pounds, then ran Detroit's marathon
In 42 years of marathon coverage, he's our biggest loser -- by far.
And that makes him a heckuva winner. Carlos Orosco, 43, of Zilwaukee is the Detroit marathon runner who lost the most weight that any race insider can recall, of all those who've ever completed the course, going back to the first Detroit marathon in 1978.
His photos say it all. In late 2015, Orosco weighed about 650 when he visited his doctor and, with his mother sobbing in the next chair, heard the dire prediction: He'd be dead in three years. That's right about now.
Marathoner Carlos Orosco of Saginaw, left, and Katelyn Trepkowski also of Saginaw cross the finish line during the 42nd Annual Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon in Detroit on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)
Yet, there he was on Sunday, at the finish line of the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon. And our biggest loser flashed a winner's smile, after running a full 26.2-mile marathon, and after losing about 475 pounds to do it.
At first, he could hardly speak, as he half-cried, half-laughed his way past an emotional cheer from fellow members of his running club in Saginaw, and as he hugged an equally emotional running partner Katelyn Trepkowski, who had their checkpoint times detailed in sweat-resistant ink on her elbow.
The running companion for Carlos Orosco penned their goal pace times on her elbow, then displayed it at the finish line of Detroit's marathon on Oct. 20, 2019. (Photo: Bill Laitner)
"At mile 20, I started feeling weird," the result of dehydration, the pair decided. After getting permission from curbside volunteers at a water station, Trepkowski grabbed not just one or two cups of water but an entire cooler full, then lugged it beside her queasy companion, doling him a gulp at a time because Orosco - following stomach-stapling surgery in 2016 - can ingest only small amounts of food and liquids at at time. And they slowed down to compensate, finishing together in 6:31:14.
"She had the plan. She got me through it," said the tearful moving-company logistics manager, clad in the running apparel of the Pure Nrgy fitness studio in Saginaw, whose husband-and-wife owners provided free gear to Orosco, when he became a regular at their center and they learned of his marathon dream.
With the doctor's stinging warning, Orosco said he changed his ways with a vengeance. He'd been going to a clinic twice a week for wound care of his legs because they'd swelled so much that the skin cracked open and refused to heal, allowing infectious bacteria to enter. He had painful gout, high blood pressure and more.
[ Blind Michigan Supreme Court judge finishes Detroit marathon: 'The pain is indescribable' ]
All of that is gone. Orosco went from heavy drinking to no drinking, from three fast-food stops daily to none, and from huge meals to tiny ones of fruit, vegetables, fish and skinless chicken. He started to exercise and lost 100 pounds, building his strength and health for surgery called sleeve gastrectomy, which removed about 80% of his stomach.
"It's been a blessing. It gave me my life back," he said, in an interview before Sunday's race.
Carlos Orosco has lost 475 pounds over the last three years and completed the 42nd Annual Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon. (Photo: Carlos Orosco)
Still, getting to 'yes, I can' took more than just the operation. First, Orosco dropped from 650 to 250 over a two-year period, with moderate exercise and a strict diet.
"I felt great but I plateaued at that weight," he said. That's when a friend talked him into joining a fitness boot camp at Pure Nrgy, where the owners Ray and Rlwaida Bates "literally greeted me like a son." He told then his goals, "and they got me there," he said.
He started by running a 3.1-mile (5K) race, kept increasing the distances and joined the Saginaw Area Runners Club, soon craving the social side of running more than the foods he once ate, Orosco said.
Now, having shed the equivalent of two Detroit Lions tight ends - at 238 pounds each - Orosco said his goal is just to "keep running and stay healthy."Contact Bill Laitner: [email protected]
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