When Brad Bailey of Hastings and his wife, Lorinda Bailey, arrived at the event center in Doniphan Saturday morning for the Y to Y Marathon, the halfway point felt too quiet.
The 26.2-mile run held in January is informal, with the finish line at the 16th Street YMCA in Hastings and a celebration that begins around 11:30 a.m. Runners can start whenever they like in the morning at the Grand Island YMCA or in Doniphan for a half marathon. They also can finish whenever they want.
Unknown to the Baileys at the time, the race had been canceled for a second year, due to icy conditions that caused a safety hazard.
But Brad, 56, decided to run anyway. As it was a beautiful morning, the couple thought they might have missed the other runners and he had planned to participate in the race.
“It was gorgeous out. The snow was all frozen over, and it was glistening off that and all the ice,” Brad said.
It was also going to be Brad’s third attempt at running an entire half marathon since he suffered a stroke in 2012. The stroke caused by a work accident tore one of his carotid arteries in half.
Brad was an avid runner before the accident, finishing seven half marathons and having been running for 10 years at that time. His first half marathon was in 2001 in Grand Island.
The medication Brad takes to manage his torn artery made his hobby difficult.
“Some of those meds mess with my muscles,” he said. “I haven’t been able to run as fast and that drove me crazy.”
Brad’s family members suggested that he pick up another hobby that wasn’t as physically demanding. But Brad liked running and didn’t want to stop.
“It’s not like I’m good at it or have ever been good at it. I do it because I feel better when I’m doing it,” Brad said.
His last attempt was in Deadwood, South Dakota, where he was able to finish but had to walk occasionally. Walking a half marathon, for him, wasn’t satisfactory.
“It’s not like I get a low fuel light,” Brad said. “My engine just quits and I have to walk. I’ll walk awhile, then I’ll be able to take off jogging, but still, it feels like I failed.”
Brad found that running in colder weather is easier, making the January race ideal for him. The temperature Saturday morning was about 17 degrees when he started.
As Brad ran the canceled marathon and Lorinda followed in a car to help other runners who needed water or called it good, the roads soon started getting rough and there were no footprints from other runners.
Lorinda started getting concerned, for her husband and the other runners that hadn’t shown up.
But Brad was feeling good. His legs started hurting before his lungs, where the exhaustion usually starts to set in, did.
Despite the challenge, Brad finished at the Hastings YMCA.
“In my own mind, I felt that I was not going to be able to stop,” Brad said. “I was really tickled that I was able to make it.”
While there wasn’t a party at the YMCA with the other would-be runners, the Baileys decided to get breakfast at Perkins to celebrate the achievement.
“She was teasing me at breakfast. She said ‘If you are are the only one, you can say that you won a half marathon,’ “ Brad said.
Brad said he is grateful that his wife drove alongside him and kept him motivated.