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Woman sets sights on completing BOLDERBoulder less than a year after having a stroke

Stroke patient Christa Moritz is training to walk the 2022 BOLDERBoulder.png
Posted at 4:05 PM, Apr 15, 2022

DENVER – Christa Moritz’s training for the 2022 BOLDERBoulder is going a little slower than she imagined.

Seven months ago, on her husband Sam Olivas-Moritz’s birthday, Christa’s life changed.

The couple was using scooters to get to the Westword Music Showcase. Both Sam and Christa say they know scooters are not permitted on sidewalks in Denver, but both felt safer staying out of traffic. That is until they came upon a couple who was walking on the sidewalk near Speer Boulevard and Kalamath Street.

Sam veered off the sidewalk and safely got around the couple. When Christa tried to go around the couple she wasn’t as lucky.

“I went into the grass, and the grass had just been watered, and totally slid parallel to the sidewalk and flew off of the scooter,” she recalled, adding, “Kind of face planted right there on the sidewalk.”

Christa says she had some scratches and had chipped a tooth from the crash, but otherwise felt OK. She and Sam stopped for water and a band-aid at the store before deciding to ditch the scooters and take a Lyft the rest of the way to the festival.

Soon after they arrived at the festival Sam noticed his wife was slurring her words. He called the festival’s medics to check her out. He knew something wasn’t right with Christa, he just didn’t realize how wrong things had gone when she crashed.

“Little did we know that her carotid artery had been ruptured and that a stroke was basically happening,” he said.

Christa was rushed to the hospital. Doctors say she had an ischemic stroke after suffering facial fractures from hitting her chin on the sidewalk. The impact tore the artery which caused a blood clot which then caused the stroke. Doctor had to remove part of Christa’s skull to allow her brain to swell without causing any damage within her head.

“When I woke up in the hospital, I didn't know what had happened to me, I didn't understand what stroke was,” Christa said.

Her lack of understanding meant it took a while for her to realize what doctors meant when they said she was suffering from hemiparesis. She soon realized they were telling her the left side of her body was paralyzed.

“I was leaning on my body and I kind of fell over like a little wet noodle. And I didn't understand that my arm couldn't hold me up and my leg didn't work,” she explained.

Christa was put on a physical therapy schedule even before leaving the hospital. Since then she has become a self-proclaimed ‘PT Nerd.’ She has therapists who come to her home to work with her, attends therapy sessions at Craig Hospital’s PEAK Center, UCHealth, and works on her balance, strength, stamina and speed in exercise sessions on her own.

Doctors told Christa that retraining her body to walk would likely be the most challenging thing she would need to do during her recovery. She’s made great strides in the months since, but says her body still has problems keeping up with her mind.

“My brain's not really communicating with my leg,” she explained. “There are certain muscles that just are just as stubborn as me. They're not working.”

While it would be tempting for most people to keep trying at making small, progressive improvements, Christa decided she needed a big goal to keep her motivated. She wanted to set a date where she would be able to walk a defined distance.

“What's the big thing in Colorado that I could do? Oh, the BOLDERBoulder!”

Since its inception in 1979, the BOLDERBoulder has become one of most popular 10k road races in the country, attracting 50,000 runners and walkers to the front range city every Memorial Day. Christa grew up in Boulder and has taken part in the race before. But this time she’s going to do it with a team of friends and family walking with her along the course.

“A whole community of people that just support and adore Christa will be there walking with us as a show of support,” Sam said, adding that his eyes will be on her the whole time. “I know this means a lot to her. And I want to support that.”

Christa says she’s an athlete, a dancer, and knows the best way to accomplish her goal is to just kick herself into gear and get training. She knows there will be many obstacles to overcome during her recovery, but she’s determined not to let any of them get in her way.

“If I can just bypass the doubts and do it and walk across the finish line in my hometown -- like hell yeah!”

To learn more about the BOLDERBoulder and how you can take part by walking or running, visit BOLDERBoulder.com.  Denver7 is proud to be the media sponsor of the event and will air portions of the women’s and men’s professional races, as well as the 2022 Memorial Day Tribute at the conclusion of the race, live on Denver7.