Senior dialysis patient runs first marathon

At a time when many people are enjoying retirement and taking life a bit slower, Berrie Straatman has conquered a feat that only one percent of the population ever achieve—completing a marathon. At age of 74, he trained for and completed his first marathon! What is even more remarkable is that he undergoes dialysis three times a week. Those familiar with dialysis know that it takes its toil on the body.  “I do feel tired most of the time following treatment but feel good and have energy on my days off,” he said. He adds, “With support from Dr. Jack Scaff’s Honolulu Marathon Clinic and my nephrologist Dr. Thomas Tasaki, I was able to train for the marathon.”

Berrie wasn’t always a runner, in fact, his job in Guam as the Continental Airlines accounting manager for Micronesia kept him pretty sedentary. “I started running after retiring at age 58 and reached my peak at age 63, winning most of the 5-K and 10-K races in my age group,” he said. A marathon never crossed his mind. Then, he did a half marathon and that tested his mettle. “The half marathon was so challenging, I didn’t think I could do an entire marathon.”

An opportunity popped up when friend Evelyn Calori encouraged Berrie and his wife Nene to check out the Honolulu Marathon Clinic, which meets Sundays at 7:30 a.m. starting in March until the Honolulu Marathon in December. Berrie was hooked by the possibility of completing a marathon and by the supportive attitude of the Clinic’s volunteer staff and participants. He moved up in the ability groups finally finding his way to Blair Hoashi’s advanced group. “The support from the other members of our group really helped,” he said. He also gained a great deal from the weekly talks given by Dr. Scaff. Soon he was training with members of his group during the week too.

For eight months Berrie trained with the Honolulu Marathon Clinic and forged friendships that will last a lifetime. Then, it was time for the Honolulu Marathon. A few days before the race Berrie felt some trepidation. Following the Clinic’s guidance, he hadn’t run more than 18 miles. So, not having completed 26.2 miles, he asked himself, “Can I really do this?” He wasn’t confident he could really complete the marathon until he reached the 20-mile mark and didn’t hit the wall. “I knew I could do six more miles,” he said. His time: a remarkable 6 hours 13 minutes and 1 second.

He has words of wisdom for those joining the Honolulu Marathon Clinic. “Heed their advice.”