By Kay Wilson

Christina Nelson and Kyle Plackemeier, wife and husband, Liberty, have been running around the globe in marathons for several years.

Their passion for running and competing is only eclipsed by their love for the work of children’s hospitals.

“Our first child spent his first weeks of life in Kansas City’s Childrens Mercy Hospital’s NICU. Being so close to losing our now nine-year old child left deep scars, but the experience also instilled a love and gratitude for Childrens Hospitals,” said Plackemeier.

The major marathons usually have between 30,000 and 50,000 runners. Maybe one-third to one half run as qualifiers with close to the same running as fundraisers. These marathons generate millions of dollars for charities.

“We both competed in athletics in high school at MHS, and I had a very forgettable baseball career on some sub-par Truman State baseball teams,” said Plackemeier. “But we both acquired a taste for competition, even a love of the event of game day. And there are few game-day experiences like running a world major marathon.”

Nelson and Plackemeier grew up in Maryville graduating from MHS in 1995 and 1993, respectively. Nelson’s parents are David and Carol Baird, Maryville, and David and Margaret Nelson, Dawson, GA. Plackemeier’s parents are Kent and Elaine Plackemeier, Maryville.

Nelson graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1999 and from medical school at the University of Missouri in 2003. She completed her internship and residency in Denver, CO, with a short rotation in Madrid, Spain, to improve her ability to practice medicine with Spanish speaking patients. She is triple boarded in family medicine, integrative and holistic medicine, and aesthetic medicine. She earned a post-doctorate masters in healthcare management from the Harvard School of Public Health. Nelson held faculty teaching appointments at Boston University Medical School and Harvard Medical School while the couple lived in Boston and mentored numerous future physicians. Christina is currently a family practice physician with St. Luke’s in Kansas City.

Plackemeier graduated from Truman State in 1998 and worked in the travel industry as a cruise director and program manager for Clipper Cruise Line until marrying Nelson in 2004. He then earned masters degrees in history from Northeastern University in Boston in 2008 and Brandeis University in 2009. I am currently ABD, that is all but dissertation on my Brandeis PhD, while being a full-time stay-at-home parent.

The two moved back to Missouri in 2012 when they began their family.

“We have three children now, and while we absolutely loved living in Boston, we are thrilled to be back in Missouri where we can be near family,” noted Plackemeier.

“We both have always exercised as adults, but only started running half marathons or longer in the past decade,” said Plackemeier. “Before that, we both give a fair amount of credit for our lifestyle to the fitness ethos learned at MHS, and specifically the late Chuck Lliteras, who made it clear to us for the first time that exercise is more than just showing up to the gym. Rather, training for a purpose, whether that be Friday night lights or lifetime health, by integrating cardio with informed weightlifting and agility training. Through this, we can achieve the sound body and sound mind balance and achieve whatever victories we put in the work to reach.”

Their entries into marathon running come from Kyle’s brother, Brad Plackemeier, MHS class of 1991, who after competing as in NCAA D2 baseball as a catcher at Central Missouri State University; he played minor league baseball for two years. After running a few regional half marathons, Brad’s example encouraged Kyle to do the same and the two brothers started running races together.

Nelson later joined these races, and even completed the Kansas City Half Marathon while seven months pregnant. After Brad stepped up the level of competition by running the Maryville Marathon, Kyle joined him in the KC Marathon in 2013 and have run at least one marathon every year since, not including training runs of the same distance, including the Virtual New York Marathon in 2020.

The couple decided to turn marathon running into occasional vacations in 2017 and ran the Berlin Marathon. This year, the Berlin Marathon was in September making it possible for them to travel to Munich after the race and enjoy Oktoberfest before coming home. Berlin is one of six World Marathon Majors, joined by Chicago, New York, Boston, London, and Tokyo. There is talk that Cape Town, SA, will soon join that list.

They are running in Boston in October and New York in November this year. There are three ways to run in one of the majors. One can qualify on a time scale based on their age group, which Kyle does, or one can raise money for a charity that has been allotted a quota of guaranteed entries, or they can enter as a foreign tourist.

Donors interested in contributing to Nelson’s goal can go to and follow the directions to find Christina Nelson’s fundraising page. All donations go to a truly fantastic organization. People can donate now until the Boston Marathon on October 11 or the New York Marathon, November 8.

She is running as a charity runner for the Boston Children’s Hospital. She chose and was happy to be chosen by this charity because she has seen firsthand how their work is noble. As a physician in Boston, Nelson sent numerous patients to the children’s hospital and was impressed with their dedication and results. She has agreed to raise $7,500 in return for a guaranteed entry into the marathon. Additionally, the couple have personal, highly emotional reasons to raise money for a children’s hospital.