Rookie runner overcomes cystic fibrosis to race Grandma’s Marathon

Rookie runner overcomes cycstic fibrosis to race Grandma’s Marathon

Max Norby will run his first 26.2 mile race. Max was diagnosed with Cystic fibrosis when he was 3 years old.

When Grandma’s Marathon rolls around, Max Norby will step up to the starting line to do something that would have been unimaginable when he was born 24 years ago.

Norby was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the lungs and pancreas, at age 3.

“It’s mainly where mucus builds up in your lungs and in your pancreas, which makes it harder to breathe, which is why most people with CF do a vest and a nebulizer,” he said. “It also blocks your pancreas from producing enzymes, which means you have to take enzymes every time you eat a meal so you can actually digest your food.”

He said that in the early 2000s, the life expectancy for someone with CF was just their mid 20s.

“And I’m 24 now,” Norby said. “And it’s in the 50s, 60s, and by the time I get there, it will be all the way up. That’s something that I’ve never been worried about.”

When the cystic fibrosis is really bad or he gets sick, he said there’s uncontrollable coughing, it’s hard to breathe, and sleep is elusive. To maintain his health, he uses a nebulizer and vest that shakes to help loosen the mucus in his lungs.

But the St. Louis Park resident always stayed active.

“I grew up playing hockey, lacrosse for a little bit, baseball,” Norby said. “My doctor made it clear to me, like being active is good. Swimming is good. It’s good for the lungs, the body, especially for somebody with CF.”

When he went to college, without organized sports, he decided to take up running.

“And literally my freshman year of college, I went for a couple runs and then I signed up for a half marathon with some buddies my summer of 2019 and just fell in love with it ever since,” he said.

Grandma’s Marathon will be his first full 26.2. He ran it by his doctor, who said he could do it as long as he kept his weight up and took a few other .

“When you have CF, your body loses sodium way quicker than the normal person. So especially when you’re sweating. Like when I sweat on these long runs, you can see that salt coming off me. And that’s anyone with CF,” Norby said. “So I am chugging electrolytes all day, every day, before, after, during runs.”

He’s doing all of it not only to get to the Canal Park finish line but also in the hopes of raising $20,000 for the CF Foundation.

“Yes, all the money, all the fundraising that has gone to medicine has gotten me to this point,” he said. “But I know there’s a lot of patients out there that are not there yet, that are still just fighting it every day.