LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A paralyzed athlete using a robotic exoskeleton will join thousands of runners this Sunday at the L.A. Marathon.
By the time runners take their marks Sunday at Dodger Stadium, Adam Gorlitsky will be at least 30 hours into the 26.2-mile route through Los Angeles.
“This is my first full marathon, all 26.2 miles,” Gorlitsky said.
Gorlitsky was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident 13 years ago.
“I just fell asleep at the wheel for three to five seconds,” he says of the crash.
Since then, he has not let any moment go to waste. He’s taken part in 34 road races over the last three years, including the Surf City Marathon, when he walked the last five miles.
This weekend, he will ditch his wheelchair completely and use his robotic exoskeleton for the entire route from stadium to the sea.
“I think I can finish it in 36 hours and 30 minutes,” he said.
The robotic exoskeleton forces Gorlitsky to use different muscles to move forward. When he wears the exoskeleton, Gorlitsky says he feels neither disabled or able-bodied, but “re-enabled.”
“My abs and abdominal muscles and hips initiate the actual movement and the exoskeleton physically moves my legs for me,” Gorlitsky said.
His pace will be slow, about 1.2 miles an hour, so he plans to start his race on Friday night and continue through Saturday. By the time the official race begins, he’ll have been awake for more than 30 hours.
But the addition of thousands of other runners to his race will be a boost, not a burden, he says.
“You have 30,000 people running past you, cheering you on, it’s kinda — it’s impossible not to get amped up for that,” Gorlitsky said.