Chattanooga runner Nathan Sexton fights through five seizures to finish Boston Marathon

Nathan Sexton, a local man battling brain cancer, finished the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon with a 6:58-minute per mile pace Sunday in California. / Contributed photo

Nathan Sexton took his running career to the nation's biggest stage Monday.

The local man battling a stage 4 brain tumor completed the Boston Marathon in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators, but the feat brought plenty of struggle for the 30-year-old husband and father.

"I think the good news is he finished and he's happy about that," Sexton's father, Buddy Sexton, said. "He probably had the most difficult time to date. He had five seizures running it."

Nathan Sexton completed the prestigious 26.2-mile race in 3 hours, 51 minutes and 46 seconds. After starting out with his typical blistering pace, his splits began slowing while he coped with the seizures during much of the race's second half.

"I guess it was about 30 kilometers, he went into the medic tent," Buddy Sexton said. "The nurse kind of wanted him to stay there, and then he got back and got over the seizure and started running again. I think it was a struggle."

Nathan Sexton was diagnosed with glioblastoma nearly two years ago, and he was told it carries a life expectancy of 15-24 months. Since then, he has wowed Chattanooga's running community by picking up the sport and becoming one of the area's fastest runners.

The Knoxville native and former vice president of operations for Bellhops, a local startup moving company, finished 13th in last month's Chattanooga Marathon after a late-race seizure caused him to fall two minutes short of qualifying for the 2018 Boston Marathon.

But the Boston Athletic Association heard Sexton's story and offered him a rare special entry into this year's field.

Sexton ran a quick, seizure-free Knoxville half marathon earlier this month in preparation for the event and said he planned to focus less on his time for the Boston Marathon so he could focus on enjoying the race.

He received a special sendoff from his Bellhops co-workers last week before departing for Boston, and he represented Chattanooga during Monday's race by wearing a Bellhops headband and a Fast Break Athletics tank-top.

"I was ecstatic, to say the least," Nathan wrote in an email last month, describing his reaction to finding out he was offered a spot in the race. "Like I said earlier, running Boston is a dream for any runner."

Chattanooga Marathon champion Christian Thompson finished 29th overall in the field of 30,074 with a time of 2:23:51. Fast Break Athletics owner Alan Outlaw, who has coached Sexton, finished in 2:42:48.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com.

Area finishers

(Chattanooga resident if not specified)Christian Thompson, 28, 2:23:51, 29 overall; Kevin Huwe, 30, 2:39:29, 173; Alan Outlaw, 39, 2:42:48, 252; Andy Highlander, Signal Mtn., 29, 2:53:35, 804; Ryan Shrum, 49, 2:58:55, 1,305; Rafael Carmona, Hixson, 40, 3:04:25, 1,939; Paige Thompson, 26 (F), 3:14:33, 3,585; Jessica Marlier, Ooltewah (F), 3:17:13, 4,072; Sam Linhoss, 37, 3:21:37, 5,002; Dianna Leun, Signal Mtn., 45 (F), 3:21:38, 5,007; David Kieu, 41, 3:22:33, 5,192; Morgan Olson, Rossville, 25 (F), 3:30:09, 7,083; Kimberly Humphries, Red Bank, 33 (F), 3:31:58, 7,553; Rebecca Weant, 32 (F), 3:32:33, 7,709; Ashley Patrick, Ringgold, 30 (F), 3:37:37, 9,096; Anne Hunter Myers, McMinnville, 38 (F), 3:37:41, 9,109; Kathryn Outlaw, 36 (F), 3:39:38, 9,655; Lisa Logan, Ringgold, 45 (F), 3:42:12, 10,358; Jason Webb, 41, 3:43:01, 10,582; Sheridan Ames, Apison, 56, 3:47:13, 11,844; Andrea May, 31 (F), 3:48:00, 12,105; Nathan Sexton, Signal Mtn., 30, 3:51:46, 13,242; Scott Hamby, 46, 3:58:50, 15,304; Meredith Zinke, 27 (F), 4:02:51, 16,232; Larry Shears II, Signal Mtn., 53, 4:12:18, 18,137; Mary Stagmaier, Signal Mtn., 25 (F), 4:13:07, 18,281; Stephen Ruffin, Signal Mtn., 56, 4:13:56, 18,434; Elizabeth Collins, Crossville, 39 (F), 4:14:23, 18,521; Glynnis Hoover, 53 (F), 4:17:12, 19,016; Jennie Gentry, 48 (F), 4:19:30, 19,446; Karen Johnson, Ellijay, 55 (F), 4:21:15, 19,722; Dan Wright, Dalton, 55, 4:21:46, 19,801; John Zardis, Tellico Plains, 50, 4:30:20, 21,070; Fred Hoover, McMinnville, 56, 4:44:49, 22,637; Cyrus Rhode Jr., Spencer, 73, 4:45:01, 22,659; Bud Wisseman, 77, 5:35:51, 25,693 (26th in age group); Anthony Grossi, 56, 5:56:28, 26,215.

photo Edna Kiplagat, left and Geoffrey Kirui, both of Kenya, hold a trophy together after their victories in the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Kenyans sweep Boston Marathon on a good day for U.S. runners

BOSTON (AP) - The Kenyans are back in Boston after a relative lull that saw them shut out in the world's most prestigious marathon twice in the past three years. More surprisingly, so are the Americans. Geoffrey Kirui won the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday, pulling away from three-time U.S. Olympian Galen Rupp with two miles to go to give Kenya its first men's victory in five years. Edna Kiplagat won the women's race to complete the Kenyan sweep. They were followed closely by Americans who grabbed two of the top four women's spots and six of the top ten for men - the first time that's happened since the race went professional in 1986. "It's so exciting to see Americans being competitive here," said Rupp, the Olympic bronze medalist who was making his Boston debut. "It's a real exciting time. And it's awesome to see American distance running on the upswing and being competitive in these races." Kirui finished in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 37 seconds to claim a silver trophy, a guilded olive wreath from Marathon, Greece, and the $150,000 first prize. Rupp was 21 seconds back, and Japan's Suguru Osako 30 seconds behind him. Rounding out the top 10 were runners from California, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Utah. "American distance running is looking good today," said sixth-place finisher Abdi Abdirahman, a Somali immigrant and Tucson resident who is a four-time Olympian. "We have the podium for both men and women, so the future is great." Kiplagat finished in 2:21:52 to win her Boston debut, adding the victory to two world championships and wins in London, New York and Los Angeles. She pulled ahead of Rose Chelimo of Bahrain in the Newton hills to win by 59 seconds. American Jordan Hasay, making her first run at the 26.2-mile distance, was third and Desi Linden was fourth - the first time since 1991 that two U.S. women have finished in the top four. "It keeps happening. We keep getting closer. We're putting more numbers in there and it's just a matter of time," said Linden, the 2011 runner-up by 2 seconds. "When Americans break the tape, it's going to be a big deal here."