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Meet Timothy Burke, a PennDOT Employee Outrunning Multiple Sclerosis

February 16, 2022 02:00 PM
By: Craig Yetter

​When Third-Party Non-Commercial Compliance Manager Timothy Burke was diagnosed with Relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis (MS) 21 years ago, he began experiencing physical and cognitive difficulties that would come and go. However, instead of letting the disease defeat him, he decided to “outrun MS” by participating in marathons and other endurance events. 

Burke began distance training after 11 years with MS. His current training regimen consists of a four-day routine of speed running, short to middle distance running, and long distance running. 

“I made the decision that as long as I was running, MS would have to chase me to gain ground,” Burke said.  

Exercise can help to ease the symptoms of MS, and Burke engages in plenty of exercise, averaging about 25 miles of running a week. He increases his running distances the closer he gets to a race to help prepare himself for the challenges of a marathon. 

Burke has completed six full marathons, having run 26.2 miles in each one. He has also competed in a 51-mile ultra-marathon. 

In addition, Burke has also participated in two Olympic distance triathlons, which include 1.5 miles of swimming, 25.5 miles of biking and 6.2 miles of running. 

“So far, I have been able to stay ahead of the disease progression and achieve every running goal I’ve set for myself,” Burke said. “I don’t win many races, but every time I cross the finish line, it’s a victory.” 

On top of his participation in athletic activities, Burke also serves as a National MS Peer Connection volunteer. His duties include having conversations with those who have recently been diagnosed with MS, and fielding questions from their friends and family. 

“[The program] can help those living with MS, as they can get information and reflection from someone who lives with it every day,” said Burke. “I’m always available to answer questions and provide counsel on how to move forward in the shadow of this debilitating disease.” 

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