Hector Picard doesn’t have arms. Kerry Gruson cannot use her legs. Together, the two inspired each other to cross the finish line of Sunday’s Miami Marathon and qualify for the 2019 Boston Marathon.
The adaptive athletes covered the 26.2-mile course in 6 hours and 39 minutes. Picard, 51, an Ironman finisher who lost both of his arms after being electrocuted in a work accident 26 years ago, pushed Gruson, a 70-year-old former New York Times and Miami Hearld reporter who was suffocated and left for dead by a former Green Beret overcome by a severe PTSD episode, the entire way.
“This was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done,” Picard said in a Facebook post. “Most of you know that running isn’t my thing, but Kerry has the ability to make you do crazy things.”
The two joined forces to bring attention to ThumbsUp International, a Miami-based non-profit co-founded by Gruson that pairs athletes of all ages and abilities so they can conquer athletic challenges together.
“Some people question how I can call myself an athlete. It’s been remarked that I just sit there,” Gruson told Purpose2Play in June. “My feeling is I am an endurance athlete in the truest sense of the word: I endure the long hours of training and of racing. My ‘job’ on the team is to endure with equanimity and grace, to help inspire my teammates to give their very best. Able-bodied athletes say they think of themselves and derive great satisfaction from being our ‘engines.’ I think of us, their disabled teammates, as being the able-bodied athletes’ inspirational ‘fuel.'”
Up next for the pair? The 2019 Boston Marathon.
“I want people to look at us as equals with just some minor differences,” Picard told us. “If you think of me as a disabled guy during a race, believe me, I’m training and working my butt off to pass you up.”
And, we have no doubt that Picard and Gruson will be passing many en route to their forthcoming Boston finish.