Boston crowds roar for Tacoma runner who lost leg in Afghanistan

Staff writerApril 21, 2014 

There were about 13 miles during Monday’s Boston Marathon that Tacoma’s Edward Lychik had the cheering crowd all to himself.

“I was always raising my hands up so they would go louder, and once they saw me the crowd would roar, they would just roar,” he said. “The city was on fire.”

The former soldier’s trip to Boston wasn’t about running the 26.2 miles, though he finished in 4 hours, 44 minutes and 25 seconds, giving high fives and taking video of the crowd as he ran.

“I came here to Boston yeah, for the marathon, but not really,” he said after the race. “I got to share my message with hundreds of thousands of people. I wanted to show people that it was possible.”

The 23-year-old Tacoma man’s left leg was amputated at the hip socket in 2011, after a blast in Afghanistan while he was serving as a combat engineer there. He ignored a diagnosis that he would walk again only with crutches, and told his physical therapist repeatedly that he wanted to run again.

Monday he was part of the marathon team running with the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation, formed to honor the 8-year-old boy killed in the 2013 marathon bombing.

“I was running it for him,” Lychik said. “He doesn’t have the opportunity, so I got to do it for him.”

The last few miles were tough, with pain and cramping.

“There were a bunch of hills,” Lychik said. “I walked a little bit. I had to keep on moving. I said to myself: ‘If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl.’”

He got through the stretch by doing a sort of side hop uphill, he said.

“If you’re ever in a tough spot and you feel like stopping, that’s when you have to think: ‘Why did I do this in the first place?’” Lychik said. “I started thinking about all the amputees I know who aren’t as motivated. All these limitations that amputees have, I want to shift that perspective.” 

And toward the end he got an extra boost of support.

Before taking off Lychik had seen and taken photos with ultra marathon runner Dean Karnazes at the starting line and was excited to meet the runner, who he looks up to.

Then, because their start times were staggered, the two met up about a mile before the finish line.

“He caught up to me, and he cheered me on,” Lychik said. “I started sprinting as fast as I could to catch up to him. How cool is that!?”

He had a modest way of celebrating his successful run.

“I am sitting here and my leg is elevated,” he said, “and it has a blister.”

Nevertheless, Lychik said he’d like to run the marathon again next year, noting it’s difficult to get a spot.

“This is the beginning,” Lychik said. “Hopefully I made a little impact. For some people that might need a little push.”

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268


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