Kaitlyn Kiely and Matt Wetherbee ran the entire 26.2 mile Boston Marathon course on Monday, but their marathon story is far from run of the mill.
The longtime Somerville couple hit the road at 9 a.m., exactly one week before the Boston Marathon. Kiely was running and pushing Wetherbee, who is paralyzed, in a racing wheelchair.
"Once I got the chair, the racing chair - we borrowed it from a friend, and then I just went to Home Depot and bought 50-pound bags of salt. And slowly but surely added 50, then the next week 100, then the next week 150," said Kiely about her training.
Wetherbee suffered a severe spinal cord injury during a pickup basketball game two years ago and has been going through rehab ever since.
When Kiely ran the Boston Marathon last year, she made a pledge to run the 2018 race with Wetherbee. Although they did not qualify for the marathon in time, the couple decided to run a week early so they could still support their cause, a place called Journey Forward where Wetherbee goes to rehab four times a week.
"It's scary, I've never pushed him before this long, so I'm excited," Kiely told WBZ-TV. "He hasn't done a lot of runs with me in the chair but I love just looking down and seeing his head there and just know that he's there the whole time. It makes me feel like I can't stop."
A few runners joined the couple at the start line and about 30 other supporters cheered them on as they began their journey. Boston Bruins Hall of Famer Ray Bourque and the Frates family were among the crowd.
"Matt and Kaitlyn, and my Pete and Julie, examples of kids who had no idea that their life was about to change in a minute. But they have taken what we would look at as possibly tragedy, adversity, and look what they have made of it," said Nancy Frates.
Kiely and Wetherbee finished in five hours and 28 minutes. A huge accomplishment. They plan to celebrate and then it's back to work for Wetherbee, who hopes one day to walk again.
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