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2017 Retrospect – what did Team Alpha-1 Athlete actually do the past year?

Team Alpha-1 Athlete had a very busy 2017. Competitions and events took us around most of Europe, as well as bringing us to the US several times. Our work was very varied, in that we competed in multiple sports, participated at big events in various capacities, and completed our Buzfecta project.

From the department of Ground breaking firsts and historic moments:

  1. OCR: Obstacle course racing)
    1. Spartan Winter Sprint (7+ miles, 20+ obstacles) first athlete under oxygen therapy, Svit, Slovenia
    2. Double Spartan Sprint on one day, Vesprem, Hungary
    3. OCR World Championship, athlete under oxygen therapy, 3 km journeyman distance
    1. WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) approval for use of oxygen therapy in competition regardless of type of sports. This had never been given to any athlete ever, and was critical in order to be able to compete in WADA controlled sports and competitions. It is our hope that this sets presedence for other athletes in similar situations as Karen.
    2. Competing at regional level championship, Bergen, Norway
    3. Competing in national championship, Bergen, Norway
    1. Arnold sports festival, Columbus, Ohio
      • First athlete under oxygen therapy to participate any kind of sport
      • Arnold Disabled Strongman, first female competitor
    2. Britains disabled strongman, first female, Kent, UK
    3. Iceland Viking Disability Challenge, first female, Reykjavik, Iceland
    4. Germanys Strongest Disabled Man, first female, Völklingen, Germany
    5. First female to pull 8,5 ton truck arm over arm, Germanys Strongest Disabled Man

We are proud of the level of attention these first moments have created for Alpha-1, thanks to the press coverage world wide trough all types of media.

New World Records

The year also brought a few new world records for Karen. The very first one was set back in 2016, a shared record from the deadlift event at Worlds Strongest Disabled Man in Manchester, UK, set at 120 kg. Karen raised the bar a bit in 2017:


Deadlift from 13 inches
  • March 2017: 125 kg Arnold Disabled Strongman, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  • May 2017: 140 kg Britains Disabled Strongman, Kent, UK
Deadlift from 18 inches
  • July 2017: 140 kg Germanys Strongest Disabled Man, Völklingen, Germany

Projects and events

The other little and big things that 2017 had in store for us:

Alpha-1 Patient conference

This conference is held in Europe by Alpha-1 Global bi-annually. In 2017 the location was set to Lisbon, Portugal, and Karen was asked to be the emcee for this. She also had her own little speech during the program, in which she delivered her Fit for life message.

Our team also was given space for a little stand, where we could present ourselves and our message to the delegates from around the world.

Spartan Beast, Liberec, Czech Republic

This race really turned out to be a beast. On a course that was laid out around a ski jump area, with the course going up and down steep hills, it was a test of endurance and willpower. The temperature was fairly low, with plenty of rain and cold wind to support the miserable conditions. A lot of people gave up, and two of our team members had to be sent ahead when they started showing signs of hypothermia.

After a gruelling 11h 30min on the tracks, we were pulled off for safety reasons, after having covered 26 of the 28 km long race, with 1400 m elevation. But as the light was long gone, and the tracks kept going through dark woods, and with more obstacles to cover, this was in hindsight a correct decision from the organizers. But bitter for us at the time, after all the effort and suffering that was put into getting to the finishing line.

But thanks to the effort given by the support team – with each crossing the start line carrying 40 kg of oxygen canisters in their backpacks – the organizer kindly agreed that they had earned their finisher medals.

All for one, one for all

Buz Kuzan, a native of South Carolina, US, got to take the trip of a life time. Having never been abroad, we flew him in to Oslo where he took part in Oslo Maraton, after delivering a speech to the other participants during the meet and greet.

The planned Spartan Sprint race in Liberec, Czech Republic, unfortunately had to be cancelled for us due to the combination of weather and health conditions. Safety must always come first.

But Buz got to visit Norway, Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic and Poland during his trip, and feel the freedom of a Philips SimplyGo, which he used for the duration of the trip, including the trans Atlantic flights.

Along with Buz came his coach and friend, Kasey Meunier and Cliff Cunningham.

ERS 2017

Through our sponsor CSL Behring we were lucky to be given a corner of their stand during the European Respiratory Society exhibition. With our unique appearance and message in this environment we caught the attention of a lot of people from around the globe. A unique opportunity for us

Every step counts – over 3 million steps was donated to us from visitors to the exhibition! Our target was 2 million.

During the exhibition, Karen also delivered speeches at the Philips stand twice daily, in addition to being a keynote speaker during official evening receptions with both CSL Behring and Philips.



Oslo Marathon 2017

Through our movement Alpha Warriors, we have participated at the Oslo Marathon weekend every year since 2013. This year – 2017 – set a new record for us. We had 35 patients from 3 countries participating, together with 10 helpers. As always when we do these races, all finished!

This year Alpha Warriors also had participants on all four distances at Oslo Marathon, 3km, 10km, 21km, 42km.

Sponsoring by Team Alpha-1 Athlete

We believe in sharing and giving opportunities to others where we can. We do not set off to save the world, but where we can we try to help out and enable others to undertake whatever form of exercise they prefer.

We did a fair bit of sponsoring in 2017:

  • Buz Kuzan, 4 Spartan races (3 US and 1 Europe), together with trip to Europe for him and coach with all costs in relation to it.
  • Bicycle to an alpha1 patient in the US
  • Gym membership to COPD patient in South Africa
  • T-shirts, bags and dinner for patients at Oslo Marathon
  • Meet and greet for patients in conjuction with Oslo Marathon
  • Sponsoring of hotel rooms in conjuction with Oslo Marathon event
  • Medals for participants in Germanys Strongest Disabled Man
  • Goodie bags for participants at Germanys Strongest Disabled Man
  • Meeting room, coffee, tea and fruit for the annual meeting in Alfa-1 Norge (Norwegian alpha-1 association)

Media coverage

As one of our primary goals is to spread information and awareness about Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and other respiratory diseases, getting media coverage is important. In 2017 we got covered in the following media:

  • NBC Columbus, TV news interview prime time
  • Fremover, newspaper, Narvik, Norway
  • Avisa Nordland, newspaper, Bodø, Norway
  • Avisa Nordlys, newspaper, Tromsø, Norway
  • Rana Blad, newspaper, Mo i Rana, Norway
  • Barbend, strength related online news/blog, USA
  • Iceland national TV, Reykjavik, Iceland
  • SWR, Radio interview, Saarland, Germany
  • SWR, TV interview and feature, sports news, Saarland, Germany
  • Vårt Oslo, internet newspaper from the largest media house in Norway, Oslo, Norway
  • NAAF magazine, feature over several pages, magazine from the National Asthma and Allergy Foundation, Norway
  • Alpha 1 to Alpha 1, Alpha-1 Foundation magazine, USA
  • Multiple features on different official strength related instagram accounts
  • Multiple features for Alpha 1 Global and Alpha 1 Foundation
  • Our webpage reached readers in 61 countries

We would like to take the opportunity to thank our sponsors for making it possible for us to contribute to changing the world – one human at the time. Without your contributions and without the gifts given by individuals we could not have made this enormous job of making the world Alpha-1 aware through sports in the way we have done. As we continue to spread Alpha-1 awareness we know that WE ARE THE CHANGE, each and every one of us that step up to make the world a better place IS THE CHANGE.

To all of you:


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