Kaitlyn Kiely ran the Boston Marathon last year but did not qualify to run the 26.2-mile race this year.
This year, Kiely hoped to run the race with her boyfriend Matt Wetherbee by pushing him in a wheelchair. Wetherbee is paralyzed from the shoulders down and was set up in a special racing wheelchair but, according to NorthJersey.com, the couple did not qualify to run the marathon because six duos, the maximum allowed, were already locked in for the race.
Instead, the couple, with friends and supporters — including Boston Bruins great Ray Bourque — by their side, ran the course Monday morning and finished in five hours and 28 minutes.
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Kiely trained for the task by putting three 50-pound bags of salt in the wheelchair and pushing it as she ran around the streets of Boston.
So, every day, as she has done for months, Kiely lifts the bags of salt, places them into the three-wheeled black and yellow racing chair and pushes on in preparation for the race. It has been too cold for Wetherbee to sit in the chair, so the 150 pounds of salt will have to do until race day.
She pushes the chair and the salt, sometimes more than 15 miles and some days up Heartbreak Hill. It’s more than just the name of the toughest uphill section of the Boston Marathon course for Kiely. Sometimes it’s about her and Wetherbee.
“People tell me I’m crazy,” Kiely said. “I’m told I’m the first female to run the marathon route pushing an adult male. I’m preparing. I’m not going to half-ass it, I won’t take no for an answer and I won’t give up.”
The Somerville, Massachusetts-based couple has been together for seven years and Wetherbee was set to propose in June 2016 — until the accident happened. Wetherbee was severely injured while playing pickup basketball with friends. Now he attends rehab sessions four days a week at Journey Forward, a non-profit organization “dedicated to bettering the lives of those with spinal cord injuries or disability.”
Per CBS Boston, part of Kiely’s motivation to run the race with Wetherbee was to support Journey Forward.
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