A year ago, Brent McKerchie could barely walk a mile in under 30 minutes.
Fast forward to September 2023 and Brent – 9 months after having open heart surgery – completed the Community First Fox Cities Marathon presented by Miron Construction (which also happens to be his employer).
“Before my surgery (December 2022), I made a deal with my sister that if all went well, I would do the Half Marathon with her,” said Brent, 31, of Appleton.
While he walked most of the 13.1 miles in just over three hours, he said simply “to finish was a huge victory for me.”
Brent’s sister, Miranda Casey, was eager to encourage her brother’s new found health journey.
“We had so much fun on race day – the sibling banter was a really great time,” Miranda, also a first-timer who works for Ascension, the 5K Run/Walk sponsor. “We wore matching shirts. Our family made posters and followed us along the route.”
Miranda’s race bib said her goal was “to beat my brother” and during the race other runners and spectators asked if she was indeed ahead of him. “It was all in good fun. I didn’t beat him by much though!”
The amazing support from spectators and volunteers was memorable for both.
“Seeing the whole Fox Valley rally together and cheer everyone along the way, offering words of encouragement along every turn, strangers striking up conversation while we made our way through the course, it definitely was a surreal experience,” he said. “Having our names on the bibs gave that personal touch. The ‘You got this Brent’ (comments) sure resonated with me. Being personally cheered for gave me that extra push to keep going, maybe even try going faster.”
Miranda, who started her own “new found love of fitness” two years ago, is “very proud” of her brother, who quit smoking last year. “It was neat that this race had ties to both of our employers (Miron and Ascension) as well,” she said. “That was another exciting part of it all.”
Brent’s favorite memory occurred in the food/refreshment tent at the finish line. “A volunteer saw my back bib and said ‘You’re kidding’ I said, ‘Nope’ with a smile and she immediately asked to take a picture of it. That made me really feel like I did something special after such a severe surgery.”
Brent is grateful that others were interested in his health journey and recovery. “If it gets out and helps convince even one person to break out of their comfort zone, it means everything I did was beneficial to more than just myself.”
He is already looking forward to the 2024 Community First Fox Cities Marathon Weekend of Events. “Can’t wait to beat my time next year – and my sister,” Brent said.