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Clancy set for Boston Marathon push

by | Apr 10, 2024 | Featured

Kevin Clancy and Chad Larivee

Kevin Clancy (left) and Chad Larivee (right) are joined by two of Clancy’s children, Finn and Keira, at a past race.

If you’ve seen a runner pushing dumbbells around town in a wheelchair and wondered why, there’s a good explanation.

For his first Boston Marathon, Hopkinton’s Kevin Clancy will be pushing a quadriplegic relative, Chad Larivee, competing as a duo participant. During his training, however, Clancy often had to train without Larivee, due to weather or scheduling issues.

To replicate pushing a 200-pound man, Clancy often loaded dumbbells into the chair. Sometimes he’d get a little creative, like the time he put a doll of Grateful Dead legend Jerry Garcia on top of the weights and added a tie-dye shirt. It led to some interesting looks.

“One time, I had a cop follow me for like 2 miles,” Clancy recalled. “I don’t know if he thought I was crazy or something. He went back and forth, and eventually he stopped, rolled the window down and looked in the chair. Then he took off.”

On April 15, Clancy will trade in the Grateful Dead for a grateful living person.

New lifestyle after accident

Larivee, a former Franklin firefighter who worked in roofing on the side, became a quadriplegic almost a decade ago after suffering injuries from a fall off a roof.

With help from Spaulding Rehabilitation and his family, the married father of three learned how to cope with his new existence. Now, he is looking to give back to Spaulding, as the team already has raised well over $16,000 for the organization (givengain.com/project/kevin-raising-funds-for-spaulding-rehabilitation-68523).

“Spaulding took me in after my original surgery, and I was there for 3 1/2 months,” Larivee recalled.. “They basically taught me how to live again — what I have to do to continue on with my life and kind of prepare for the new normal. Because everything I was used to for 40-plus years has been turned upside down, and I’m fully dependent on other people to provide that for me. Brushing my teeth, getting out of bed, I need assistance.

“They walk you step by step what to expect, pitfalls you might run into along the way. As someone who never experienced it or worked with any type of handicap population before, I had no idea.”

After settling into his new lifestyle, Larivee expressed an interest in taking on new challenges — finding a way to “participate in sports in one way or another,” as Clancy recalls it.

“The topic came up over dinner,” Clancy said. “He was itching to participate in something again. He was an athlete, his kids are athletes. We have a few runners in the family. So we said that this is something that could happen.”

Kevin Clancy and Chad Larivee

Kevin Clancy will push Chad Larivee in this year’s Boston Marathon.

Road racing was an immediate success, with various family members sharing the responsibility of pushing the chair. The reception from spectators and other runners was unforgettable.

“The first half-marathon I did with my boys and Kevin, honestly, it brought me to tears at some parts,” Larivee said. “People you don’t even know cheering you on; it was a very cool feeling.”

Eventually, the family turned its attention to the Boston Marathon, where duo racing was made famous by Rick and Dick Hoyt. Only this time, one runner had to commit to pushing Larivee the whole way. The family could not trade off as they had been doing in other races.

“I was willing to raise my hand,” said Clancy, whose wife, Jess, also ran Boston two years ago.

Getting a spot was not easy. The Boston Athletic Association limits the number of duo participants, who take off from the Hopkinton start line at 9:30 a.m., shortly before the professional men and women. Applicants must first run another approved marathon, then — unless they meet a challenging qualifying time standard, which Clancy and Larivee did not — submit their information and hope to be selected via a lottery.

Clancy pushed Larivee in the Cape Cod Marathon in 2022 and eventually received a bib to run Boston this year.

Communication key

While they will talk some during the race, Larivee said communication overall is difficult, due to the positioning of his head and the fact that his voice does not carry that far — especially with the wind.

“I’m trusting him to take care of me, and he will check in to make sure I don’t need anything,” said Larivee, who is married to Clancy’s cousin, Jeanne. “Not only does he have to look after himself and try to focus on his running, he has to check in with me as well.”

Clancy has pushed the chair with dumbbells over much of the course to prepare for race day, although he always stops short of where the race will end on Boylston Street.

“I didn’t want to cross the finish line until the big day,” he said.

Clancy anticipates the Newton hills presenting the biggest challenge.

“I’m a little worried about those Newton hills, no doubt — Heartbreak and the three leading up to it,” he said. “Those are daunting. My strategy is just to walk fast. You can’t run those hills pushing 200 pounds.”

Going downhill also presents a challenge, as he will need to ride the brakes in order to maintain control while keeping his body moving forward.

“You’ve got to get it just right,” he said. “And with Chad in the chair instead of the dumbbells, the weight distribution does get a little different. I try to mimic it, but there is some difference with the feel of the chair.”

‘Life doesn’t end’

Larivee expressed gratitude to his family and everyone who has helped him get to Hopkinton for this year’s race, including everyone at Spaulding, people who donated money, and especially Mike DiDonato from Southbridge Tool and Manufacturing Co. in Dudley, who supplied the racing wheelchair.

Larviee also would like to make people aware that quadriplegics can live fulfilling lives.

“I’d just like to tell everyone that your life doesn’t end when you get in a wheelchair,” he said. “All you have to do is ask, and most people are very receptive to helping out.”

And while he said riding through the course clearly isn’t the same as being a more active participant, it’s still memorable. He noted that while runners might not be able to enjoy the crowds as much because they are focused on their run, he gets to take a different approach.

“As a rider, as a passive participant, it’s amazing to see,” he said.

4 Comments

  1. Glenn Berry

    Go guys go proud of you Kevin

    Reply
  2. Caterine McCurdy

    So proud of you Chad for accomplishing such a big goal. I’ll be tracking you guys the day of the marathon. Take care and go team Chad!!!

    Reply
  3. Darren McLaughlin

    So, so amazing! Chad and Kevin, what an incredible challenge. Rick and Dick Hoyt are looking down on you both with great pride and inspiration! As Dick would say, “Yes you can!”” Go get ‘em boys!

    Reply
  4. Keir

    So proud of this group!

    Reply

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