Deborah Bullerjahn ran 20 marathons before succumbing to appendiceal cancer in 2010. This year, her memory will inspire two more.
Kyle and Lucas Bullerjahn, Deborah’s sons, are running the Boston Marathon in her memory—honoring a woman strong-willed enough to run a marathon on each continent, and to complete the Boston Marathon in the throes of a battle with cancer.
“When you’re reaching 17, 18, 20 miles, it starts to wear on you,” says Lucas, 32. “Whenever I’m feeling like I can’t move another step, I think of when she would push me to be the best that I could possibly be, and how she used to do this herself.”
Kyle, 29, first suggested that the pair—both casual runners who had never before run a marathon—take on Boston. The duo decided to join the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team, raising money for the hospital that cared for their mother in her last years of life. Together, they’re hoping to raise $20,000.
“Our main goal is raising money for Dana-Farber,” Kyle says. “The time is secondary to the greater cause and the catalyst for running this marathon.”
Deborah herself raised $65,000 dollars for Dana-Farber through her running, but that’s only one of her numerous accomplishments. Among them: traveling to Antarctica not once, but twice, as part of her goal to finish a marathon on every continent.
“When she went down and did the first marathon in Antarctica, she finished it and she told our dad that it wasn’t 26.2 miles. She just felt it, that it wasn’t a full marathon,” Kyle remembers. “She actually went back to Antarctica and ran another marathon down there, just so she knew, in her mind, that she had run a marathon on every continent.”
The younger Bullerjahns may never run in Antarctica, but as they train—Kyle in California, Lucas in New York—they say they’ve both grown closer to their mother’s memory.
“Obviously, not having my mom in my life, in the physical sense, is painful,” Kyle says. “But being able to run, and knowing that my mom was so passionate about running, is just a beautiful way to be connected.”
“It has definitely unearthed a lot emotion, in terms of just missing my mom,” adds Lucas. “It’s a very strong motivational factor for me.”
And while the brothers’ run is a tribute to their mother, it’s also a testament to the bond they share.
“My vision,” Kyle says, “is Luke and I coming down Boylston, crossing that line together.”
To donate to the Bullerjahns’ fundraiser, click here.
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/2016/03/28/bullerjahn-brothers-marathon/
Copyright ©2021 Boston Magazine unless otherwise noted.