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Local lung cancer survivor pairs research launch with race

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The Wortman Lung Cancer Foundation is celebrating the launch of a long-term lung health study with the Running Lungs Race in Big Sky on July 21.

The Longitudinal Lung Health Research Study focuses on the relationships between environment, genetics, lifestyle and fitness in respiratory health and the progression of lung disease. It’s being conducted in coordination with the research lab of Dr. Bruce Johnson of Mayo Clinic.

“This is going to be the [study] kick-off, right here,” said race organizer Linda Wortman, adding that she hopes to grow the race over time. “The goal is to have it every year [and] tie in the canyon businesses and the Meadow Village and Town Center.”

Mayo Clinic research staff will be present at the race packet pick up on Friday, July 20, and at the race to answer questions and enroll interested participants.

“They’re finding so much more out about our lungs that it’s just mindboggling,” Wortman said, adding that the study will focus on aspects of lung health upstream of lung disease. “There’s growing evidence that diet and exercise can impact and modulate the immune system.”

Johnson has another local link: He’s worked with famed Bozeman-based climber Conrad Anker. In 2012, Anker participated in a cardiorespiratory study Johnson conducted on Mount Everest to gain insight into conditions related to a low oxygen state like heart disease, lung failure and sleep apnea.

The Running Lungs Race will begin with a bang July 21 when participants blow up virtual balloons at the race as part of the “first to burst” lung challenge—a partnership with BreathResearch, a Walnut Creek, California-based research company that creates wearable technology for cardiorespiratory testing, prescription and coaching. BreathResearch will be on hand to demo MyBreath, an app designed to help users optimize and track their breathing. 

After the first to burst lung challenge, the 10-kilometer run/walk will start at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center at 5 p.m., rain or shine. The 5-kilometer run/walk starting line is located near the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce at the intersection of highways 191 and 64.

Big Sky residents Jerry and Linda Wortman and BreathResearch CEO Nirinjan Yee will be at the race and invite people “to join them as they give a voice to lung cancer patients, family and survivors greater hope as WLCF strives to save lungs and lives with awareness and research,” according to Wortman Lung Cancer Foundation press release.

Linda Wortman is a lung cancer survivor who spoke at the 2017 TEDxBigSky with a talk titled “Beating the Odds: Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with One Lung.”

Visit for more information about the race or the Longitudinal Lung Health Research Study.

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