With a flat course, the Chicago Marathon is known for allowing runners to throw down fast times. And among those with world records and personal records on the brain is Brian Reynolds, a 30-year-old New Jersey resident who has his sights set on being the first American double amputee to run a sub-three-hour marathon.
And, it’s hard not to like his chances. Last year, he clocked 3:06:38 at the Chicago Marathon. In April, he chased sub-three-hours and nearly hit the mark when he finished the London Marathon in 3:03:35 on an especially hot day. Those are impressive feats considering Reynolds only began running seriously six years ago.
Reynolds, who is a manager of a running store, father of two and just completed his MBA and master’s in public health, lost his legs below the knee at four years old due to contracting meningococcemia, a bacterial bloodstream infection that can lead to meningitis and sepsis.
Throughout his childhood, he played basketball and baseball on prosthetic legs, and in college, he took up powerlifting and progressed so quickly — deadlifting 485 pounds at only 132 pounds himself — that he was able to compete with able-bodied athletes, according to Men’s Health.
However, he could barely run a mile due to sore hips. After taking a hiatus from running, he returned to the sport a couple of years later with a new strategy. He would run one minute every day for a week. Then, he’d up his time to two minutes every day for a week.
“That’s the ground work I needed to build some of those basic muscles in my hips and legs that I was lacking,” he told Runner’s World.
Once he got a set of running legs made of carbon fiber, there was no looking back.
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Legs galore! #newlegs It’s going to be a hard choice, old and faithful for Chicago Marathon or sleek and new!?!? (the marathon is less than 2 weeks away!) Thank you to the team @astepaheadprosthetics for keeping me running and functioning at such a high level! . . . . . . #monday #mondaythoughts #adaptiveathlete #adaptive #nikerunning #nike #ChicagoMarathon #amputeesofinstagram #amputee #marathonrunner #marathontraining #marathon #instafitness #athlete #fitlife #bankofamerica #instarunners #igrunners #lovetorun #runners #runnersofinstagram #runningman #runchat #happyrunner #running #worlderunners #chicago #bankofamerica
To prepare for Chicago, Reynolds backed of his mileage and implemented more cross-training into his routine. Come Sunday, he’ll find out whether it worked as a crowd of thousands cheer him on.
With a core belief that he can become faster in the years to come, others who have experienced limb loss are seeing that athletes of all shapes and sizes can compete at the elite level.
“I honestly never thought of myself as an inspiration. I am just like any other athlete doing what I love and that makes me happy,” Reynolds told Men’s Health. “However, knowing how hard it can be to navigate around the physical barriers as an amputee, I hope [I inspire] others to get out and try.”
After all, if anxiety keeps you sidelined, who else is going to step in and live your life?