Fruita Monument’s Bisbee doesn’t let foot deformity hurt running ability

Fruita Monument runner Chuck Bisbee’s budget for shoes is double, or at least complicated, because one of his feet is two sizes smaller than the other.

Fruita Monument’s Chuck Bisbee runs recently during a boy’s 3,200-meter relay for the Wildcats. Bisbee was born with a club foot and a rocker foot, but hasn’t let the foot deformity affect his performances with the Wildcats.

Running wasn’t supposed to be this effortless for Chuck Bisbee.

Bisbee, a Fruita Monument High School freshman, runs the 800 and 1,600 meters for the Wildcats’ track team, and also runs cross country in the fall.

He qualified for National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships this past December, finishing 36th out of 304 runners.

That’s an impressive start to a high school running career.

If you take a close look at Bisbee, though, you might notice something just a little bit different.

His right foot is two sizes smaller than his left.

Bisbee was born with a club foot and a rocker foot. He spent nearly all of the first year of his life with his right foot in a cast and needed corrective surgery when he was 9 months old.

Bisbee, though, says it’s no big deal now.

“There isn’t a whole lot of difference at this point,” Bisbee said. “I can’t jump off (the right) leg, but there isn’t much difference in running.”

A club foot is a congenital deformity, where the affected foot is rotated internally at the ankle.

The rocker foot causes Bisbee’s foot to pull upward because of a short tendon leading to his right big toe.

His left foot is a size 111⁄2. His right foot takes a size 91⁄2 shoe.

“Shoes are a pain to get,” Bisbee said. “Most places won’t let you swap it, so you have to get two pairs of shoes.”

Bisbee sends his unmatched “pairs” of shoes to the National Odd Shoe Exchange, a nonprofit organization in Chandler, Ariz. The organization helps people who require single shoes or pairs of different sizes because of amputation, injury, disease or genetic disorders.

Bisbee’s mother, Michele, first saw the shoe exchange as a solution for Chuck, but there has been an increase in people looking for only a single shoe because of war injuries.

Now, the Bisbees simply donate the extra shoes.

“We are glad to be able to donate Chuck’s unused pair to our veterans and to people who don’t have the means to purchase the right shoes themselves,” Michele Bisbee said.

Chuck’s foot deformity wasn’t discovered until after he was born. Michele said she was never told he wouldn’t be able to do certain things, but doctors said Chuck might be limited in some activities.

Bisbee had his early struggles, like learning to walk while his leg was in a cast.

Bisbee’s parents both loved distance running, but didn’t know what Chuck’s future would hold because of his foot.

Michele Bisbee remembers she and her husband, Jeff, watching their son’s first breakthrough when he was 5 years old.

“It was during one of those youth track meets during the summer at Lincoln Park,” Michele Bisbee said. “We were unsure if he could run in the right direction, and when he did, it was so emotional.

“For him to be competitive and really love it is a blessing, and he’s so passionate about running.”

Bisbee’s foot isn’t obvious to the casual observer. Fruita Monument track coach Tom Goff also coached Bisbee in freshman basketball, and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary at first.

“About halfway through the basketball season I was looking at him and said ‘Hey Chuck, why do you have one leg that’s skinnier than the other?’ ” Goff said. “He gave me the story and it was like, ‘Wow, I had no idea.’ “

Bisbee is one of only three freshmen ranked in the top 40 in the state in the 800 meters and the only freshman in top 45 in the 1,600 meters.

“He’s really coachable and works hard,” Goff said. “He’s only a freshman, which makes it that much better.”

Goff said Bisbee is doing things he’s never seen from a freshman, including clocking a time of 2 minutes, 4.31 seconds in the 800 meters.

“I can’t remember a freshman running a 2:04 in the 800, and we had Steve Kasica, who was a state champ (in the 800),” Goff said. “So it’s really good, and he’s got a bright future.”

Bisbee still has some minor problems with his right foot. His lower leg gets tight and cramps, and he has limited flexibility in his right ankle. He also might require surgery in the future to lengthen his Achilles tendon.

Bisbee doesn’t feel sorry for himself, and doesn’t see himself as any different than his competitors.

“I always knew I had a lot of support,” Bisbee said. “I never felt like I couldn’t do something.”


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