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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Thanks to Family, She's Now in It for the Long Run

August 10, 2000|MIKE TERRY

Placing 48th out of 50 in a road race is usually no cause for applause or celebration. But for Emily Markert, it was better than winning a gold medal.

Being able to run in the Iowa Twin Lakes 5K on Saturday was a triumph for Markert, 18, from Manson, Iowa. A year ago, doctors wondered if Markert could survive a disease that destroyed her lungs. Surgeons had to remove them in October. Her uncles, Don and Larry Fitzgerald, each donated a section of their lungs to save her life.

Without the surgery Markert would have died, her family said.

"It was very hard for her to allow them to do it," said Markert's mother, Liz. "She didn't want anybody else to have to suffer. But she had to finally make that decision."

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More Markert: Markert used to run five kilometers--a distance of 3.2 miles--as easily as she walked. She competed in track at Manson-Northwest Webster High and was a member of her school's 3,200-meter relay team, which qualified for the state meet in 1998.

But a form of pneumonia took away her lungs, Markert was hospitalized in June 1999, and doctors did the transplant in Los Angeles. Following surgery, Markert faced a long, arduous recovery.

She started by walking two steps at a time. She worked up to a 10-step jog, which exhausted her. A return to running seemed like a dream only Markert believed could come true.

But she never stopped dreaming or trying. Markert was able to return to Iowa in December; by the spring, she was running.

Only a couple of blocks here and there, but at least she could do it.

And now this.

"It's beyond what we expected," her mother said.

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Trivia time: Who holds the record for the fewest runs batted in by a batting champion?

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A peaceful Atwater flows: Steve Atwater wants to retire in style. And that means signing a ceremonial contract with the Denver Broncos, the team he played with for 10 years.

The former Pro Bowl safety spent last year with the New York Jets. The Broncos will sign Atwater to a one-year contract Aug. 18 and release him without any salary-cap ramifications after he appears at the next day's exhibition game against Dallas.

"He suggested we do it with little fanfare," owner Pat Bowlen said. "I said as a Bronco, we're going to do it right. We're not going to let him sneak away."

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Big decisions: Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle asked Nike executive Kathryn Reith whether track athletes appreciated all the design and care in making those body-hugging running suits that are the latest fashion rage in track and field.

"All the runners really want to know," Reith said, "is, 'Will it make me fast? Does my butt look big in it?' "

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Trivia answer: Matty Alou, 27, with the 1966 Pittsburgh Pirates.

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And finally: Major League Soccer, which has seen average attendance at its matches fall each year since its inception five years ago, is conducting a vote over the Internet for a new design for its official ball.

Dan Courtemanche, a spokesman for MLS, said the electronic balloting that started Tuesday is part of the league's effort to "develop a greater connection to our fans" as well as boost merchandise sales.

The soccer league has posted six designs on its Web site, www.mlsnet.com, and is asking viewers to indicate which they would like to see used in matches next season.

Just a hunch, but the fans would probably like more goals.

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