Patrick Finney recently completed a marathon in Washington, crossing the finish line in just under five hours. What sets the 48-year-old runner apart from other runners is that he is now the first runner with MS to finish a marathon in all 50 states. Finney recently told Reuters that the journey was “amazing.”
Finny was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998 when he lived in Washington, DC. At the time he weighed 300 pounds, and had begun running to lose weight. His doctor advised him take it easy and take his medicine. Finney ignored his doctor’s advice and continued his running regimen even after moving to Dallas in 2000.
In 2004, his MS had progressed to the point where he couldn’t walk, but Finney was determined to not only walk again, but to get back to doing what he loved–running. With new medications and extensive rehabilitation, he regained his balance and ability to walk. Eventually he slowly restarted his running regimen. Initially it was a struggle, but he persevered.
In 2005, Finney completed his first half-marathon after his MS diagnosis in just over four hours. He wasn’t fazed by the fact that the other contestants finished in less than half the time. His only goal was to persevere and finish the race.
Finney ran his first full marathon–26.2 miles–in 2006 and has been running strong ever since, with 71 marathons under his belt and seven more planned this year. In 2010, a friend made him a challenge: run 50 marathons in 50 states by his 50th birthday. It was a challenge Finney couldn’t resist. He set up a plan to accomplish this feat in three and a half years. He accomplished his goal two years ahead of schedule, exceeding his expectations.
Running the race through a strong, gusty wind was difficult, but Finney made it. He felt queasy when he finished, but he quickly recovered and celebrated with co-runners and friends who came to watch him to achieve something many people would have believed impossible only a few years ago.
His friends are in awe of him. One, Jill Parker, recollected an incident in Dallas a few years back when some race contestants were getting ready for a race on very hot and hazy September day.
“Everyone was moaning and groaning about the weather except Patrick. He was smiling,” Parker boasted of her long-time friend. “When someone asked why he wasn’t bothered by the weather, he replied, ‘I’m just happy to be able to run.'”
To see more of Finney’s amazing story from the runner himself, go to 4:24 of the timeline for an interview with him at the 2010 Mount Desert Island Marathon in Maine: