While they recall all their marathon memories with smiles, the brothers don’t hesitate to recall which races were the worst.
“It was great to see Green River, Wyoming, because we had never experienced that part of the country,” said Ricky, 57. “But those first seven miles were excruciating. They were uphill, it was super hot, and there were few water stations.”
Another unpleasant run was in Olathe, Kansas. The brothers imagined the Midwest marathon would lead them through the zoo and beautiful parks, but instead, they ran a mile loop around a mall 26 times.
The race in Iowa was 16 loops. To make it less boring, the brothers talked the entire time, reviewing 16 years of their education, from first grade to senior year of college, mile by mile. They crossed the finish line together and took first place.
Their memories are rich and endless. The Massachusetts marathon, they remember, was like a tour of lighthouses. There was New Mexico, where they took a wrong turn and had to go straight from the car to the start line. The New York marathon where they ran with a mob of 54,000 people. Boise was a hit for its great food and beautiful scenery. The Vegas marathon ended with a pizazz, running up the strip with a sky illuminated by neon lights. They had a negative split in Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, which means they ran the second 13 miles faster than the first. They even ran two back-to-back marathons, North Dakota and South Dakota, then Illinois and Arkansas.
Ricky and Kenny’s wives, children, parents, and sister joined them in Hawaii when they ran the Kona Marathon in 2019. The brothers agree, this race may have been the very best.
“Running with our kids was the highlight of the trip,” said Kenny. “There were no expectations, you saw everyone at their best and worst, from excited to so miserable. We’ll never forget it.”
Looking back, the brothers say they are happy to be done, but there’s nothing they would change.
“Being together, seeing the country and culture the way we did, it was such a magical experience,” said Kenny. “It’s a great legacy for our kids. We showed them a great way to spend quality time with their sibling. They saw us sacrifice other things to prioritize this time together.”
It was always their intention to run their 50th race in California, but in 2008, when Ricky and Kenny’s older brother, Joey, a California resident, died of pancreatic cancer at age 44, their decision was finalized.
“I always loved my siblings, but after Joey died, there was a deeper meaning to spending time with Ricky and running these marathons with him,” said Kenny.
The brothers know Joey would’ve been cheering for them at the finish line.
“He would’ve made banners, yelled the loudest, maybe made a speech, even cried if he’d been there,” said Ricky. “But he was still there.”
A smile is passed between the brothers and Kenny nods.