A team effort
November 10, 2009
Twenty-seven-year-old Brian Perry is a helicopter pilot and a middle-school teacher. He likes being active, going snowboarding and hiking, but he doesn’t like marathons because he hates to run. But on Nov. 1, Brian ran 15.2 miles of the New York City Marathon with no prior training and only a three-minute stretch prior to the marathon. He said it did it for one reason: his brother John.
Parkite John Perry, 25, had been training for the New York marathon since April. It all started when his younger brother, Stephen Perry, dared him to run the 2009 Salt Lake City marathon.
"I actually did the (marathon) because my younger brother told me I couldn’t," John said.
John ran the 26.2-mile Salt Lake marathon in less than five hours and, ever since, the marathon bug has stuck. He began training for the New York marathon as a homecoming present to himself. He grew up in the Bronx and his father was a police officer in New York. He woke up early every day and ran to Silver Mountain to train.
"I was eating right and running every day," he said. "Which is why it was such a devastating blow when everything happened."
The streets of New York are more crowded than Salt Lake, he said. At mile nine of the New York marathon, John jogged to the curb to get a drink, tripped with the runner behind him, fell into the running lane and had his right ankle slammed into the concrete after being repeatedly run over.
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Medical personnel told John he may have fractured his ankle and couldn’t go on. John ignored their advice and continued the race, making it just one more mile before his ankle became too swollen to walk on. He hobbled to Brian’s nearby apartment, devastated he could not continue.
"I was pretty emotional," he said. "I felt like I just wasted a huge chunk of my life training for this."
That’s when Brian decided to overcome his distaste for running. He threw on John’s gear and joined the marathon. John hobbled down to the finish line and watched Brian cross after a combined total of 5 hours and 36 minutes.
"Was it legal? Highly illegal," John said. "But we weren’t doing it for qualifying time."
Brian said he didn’t want John to come all that way and not finish the race.
"Once I started running, I knew I couldn’t stop," he said. "I got to mile 20 and was like, ‘Oh God.’ The next day I couldn’t move. (But) it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done."
Brian took the medal that every runner receives for finishing the race, and cut it into two pieces. He had it customized with both of their names. Under "Finisher" it says, "It’s a team event." Under "Time" he engraved, "Doesn’t matter."
According to John, the marathon has brought all three brothers closer together. Though Stephen and Brian still refuse to train for marathons, they said they might consider running with John in a marathon someday.
"My younger brother is looking up to both of us now," John said.