Baltimost: Chris Conlon, aphasia advocate and marathon runner

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Credit: Laura Lynn Photography.

Baltimost is a Baltimore Fishbowl feature series that asks locals what they love about their city. The idea is to celebrate Baltimore and the people who make it so unique.

So what makes Baltimore the Baltimost to you? It could be a favorite place, a great meal, a memorable interaction or something else entirely. Email suggestions to Karen at [email protected]

Chris Conlon, 43, is an athlete, beer vendor at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and volunteer.

“Walking. Dizzy. Out.” That’s how Chris Conlon remembers the stroke that nearly killed him. It left him with aphasia, which makes speaking difficult. He told his story with help from his parents, Ron and Renate, and sometimes by typing words on his phone instead of saying them.

“Dad. Army,” says Conlon. With his father in the military, Conlon, who has three younger siblings, grew up in Germany, California, New Mexico and a bunch of other states.  Always athletic, he pitched for the Rochester Institute of Technology baseball team while getting a computational math degree there, then went to the University of Maryland for a master’s in telecommunications.

Before the stroke, Conlon was a technology contractor for the federal government, president of the Ridgely’s Delight homeowner association and an actor who appeared on “Veep,” “House of Cards” and “Parks and Recreation.” He had run seven marathons, with a top time of 3:51:08 for the Baltimore Marathon in 2003.

But two days after routine ACL surgery in 2012, he left his apartment with a friend, and didn’t get past the doorstep. “Wake up. No speech,” he says. “Disability. Me.”

Now he sells beer at Camden Yards, a job he absolutely loves. “Walking. Beer. Ten dollars,” he says. He always sees people he knows. Baseball is so important to him that he chose an apartment in the shadow of the ballpark, close enough to hear the cheering of the games.  

And he hasn’t stopped running, though he’s slower now. Conlon’s first post-stroke marathon was in Iceland, in August 2014. His time was 4:53:27. Since then, he’s run two other marathons, in Pittsburgh and Boston, using the events to raise money and awareness for the Aphasia Recovery Connection and Back on My Feet.

He also completed a full Ironman triathlon in 97-degree heat in Chattanooga in 2016, and four half Ironman tris. When he’s not running, he volunteers at local races.  

A favorite thing about Baltimore (besides the Orioles)? The annual Under Armour Kelly St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5K.  In 2013, just a few months after his stroke, he walked the Baltimore course with friends. He’s run it every year since, wearing his kilt and always getting a post-race beer at Pickles Pub.  “It’s fun,” he says.



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