Brad Reach’s wife, Ashley, cautioned him a couple months ago that his marathon running career may just come to an end before it begins.
She is pregnant with the couple’s second child, to go along with 17-month-old daughter Rayleigh, and Reach was still waffling on entering his first marathon.
“Our baby is due in August and he said he wanted to get a marathon in and I said, ‘You’d better do it now before we have another child and a 17-month-old.’ It’s just hard to keep his running going,” said Ashley, who was jumping and screaming as Reach approached the finish line. “So we decided to make the trip out here to Myrtle Beach and it was a success, so that’s awesome. It’s totally amazing.”
Our baby is due in August and he said he wanted to get a marathon in and I said, ‘You’d better do it now before we have another child and a 17-month-old.’ ... So we decided to make the trip out here to Myrtle Beach and it was a success, so that’s awesome. It’s totally amazing.
Ashley Reach, wife of Myrtle Beach Marathon winner Brad Reach
Reach, 29, of Metamora, Ill., won the Myrtle Beach Marathon in a time of 2 hours, 39 minutes and 51 seconds Saturday, defeating more than 1,800 runners entered in the full 26.2-mile race.
“I decided when to do it about seven weeks ago and whipped myself in about as good a shape as I could and it turned out very good today,” said Reach, a financial analyst at St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill.
Reach took the lead near mile 23 and won by more than 7 minutes over runner-up Matthew Leonard of Johnson City, Tenn.
“I was very pleased with how I ran today and the result,” Reach said. “I wasn’t expecting to win. I knew if I ran what I was hoping to I’d be near the top, but I ran extremely well today. The weather was perfect and support was nice. It was a great day to run today.”
Reach ran a pair of 20-mile runs over the past three weeks in preparation for the race, which was the farthest he had ever run. “I was a little scared about what might happen after I got to 20,” Reach said. “But I felt strong the whole way. The support was great out there and helped me get through the finish line.”
Reach’s time is more than 13 minutes off the race record of 2:26:26 set by Stuart Moran of Arden, N.C., in 2012 and was slightly faster than last year’s winning time.
“I think I’m capable of running faster but I wanted to run conservative and make sure I was able to finish,” said Reach, who ran some of the early miles with the runner-up in the women’s half marathon to help pace himself.
I think I’m capable of running faster but I wanted to run conservative and make sure I was able to finish.
Brad Reach, 2016 Myrtle Beach Marathon winner
His daughter is cutting her molars so he was up late with her and got little sleep thereafter. “We had a rough night. I didn’t get much sleep last night because of her,” Reach said. “But it worked out.”
He chose Myrtle Beach to be his first marathon because his wife likes the beach and wanted to make a mini-vacation out of the experience, and because a friend who had run the race a few times in the past recommended the course and its relative flatness.
“I don’t like running hills so I knew if I was going to run one it would be a nice flat one, and it’s a nice little trip for our family,” Reach said.
2 hours, 39 minutes and 51 secondsBrad Reach’s winning finish time in the Myrtle Beach Marathon
Reach ran distance races between a mile and 10 kilometers as a student at Arkansas State, and he has won local road races and several of the 30 or so half marathons he’s run since graduating.
“I knew I wanted to do a marathon,” Reach said. “I think I’m definitely suited for the distance. It’s just that I hate to go into something I’m not going to train for and put the effort in, especially since I’ve run competitively in the past.
“But once you get out of college if you’ve never done a marathon most people don’t think you’re a real runner because their neighbor has done five or six a year. I’m very happy to get one to the finish line and now that I know I can do it mentally maybe I’ll take a couple seriously and see how much I can get my time down.”
Reach hopes to continue running races despite the increasing demands on his time, as he works days and Ashley is a nurse who works night shifts.
“With our schedules, sometimes it’s difficult,” Reach said. “Thankfully she’s very understanding and lets me get out. I did buy a treadmill a couple weeks ago, as much as I hate running on a treadmill. But if I want to keep it up I’m going to have to make some compromises.”