A former University of Alaska Anchorage track star set a blistering pace at the Boston Marathon, becoming its fastest-ever double amputee as a wave of Alaskans ran the punishing race Monday.

Marko Cheseto was among the runners to take on the roughly 26.2-mile course, according to CBS affiliate WBZ-TV, finishing in 2 hours, 42 minutes and 24 seconds. He credited enthusiastic support from the crowd with helping him achieve his landmark time.

“I don’t know how they could tell that I was almost struggling but they were like, ‘Hey, Number 117, you got this!’” Cheseto said. “And I was like ‘No, I can’t let these people down.’”

Cheseto, who spoke with Runner’s World about losing his lower legs to frostbite after he went missing near UAA in 2011, has since used curved carbon-fiber prosthetic legs to run competitively. He has also moved into coaching work for the Seawolves’ cross-country and track and field teams.

According to the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, Anchorage teacher and UAA alumnus Jerry Ross was the race’s fastest Alaskan, clocking a time of 2:35:19. That time, posted as Ross recorded Facebook Live video, made him the marathon’s 197th male finisher.

Fairbanks occupational therapist Keri McEntee, 29, was the marathon’s 50th female finisher crossing the line in 2:45:28.

The Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the marathon, plans to organize a para-athlete division next year — a challenge Cheseto hopes to take on.

“But I never give up,” Cheseto said. “One thing I told myself was the condition that I have was just a phenomenon that happened in my life, it does not define who I am. I still have my inner power.”

According to WBZ-TV, Cheseto ran the marathon to support the group 50 Legs, which helps provide prosthetic legs to amputees who can’t afford them.

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