Bound for Beantown: Undeterred by loss of limb, McDermott’s next challenge is to conquer Boston Marathon

By on April 10, 2019


For Brian McDermott, everything was going as planned.

He was an outstanding football player for West Chester University and was coaching in Ohio and life was good.

Then on May 26, 2013, he was walking along the Coastal Highway in Dewey Beach, DE when he was struck by a Delaware State trooper who was on his way to a call traveling an estimated 75 miles per hour.

McDermott was in a coma for five days before waking to realize he had lost his leg.

“It took me two months to recover and it wasn’t until October of 2013 that I received my first prosthetic leg,” said McDermott.

Evan at that point, the Bryn Mawr native still had a long road in front of him.

“It took about six months before I began to feel somewhat normal and by the second six months I got my second leg,” McDermott said.

In 2015, McDermott, now 29, landed a job as an assistant football coach for Franklin and Marshall. He held that position for a year.

In the summer of 2015 McDermott met Leah Sipe, who would become his wife.

“There was an article written about me in a daily newspaper and a friend showed it to her and she wanted to meet me,” he recalled. “She had just torn her Achilles and was inspired by my story and she got a hold of me.”

McDermott credits Leah, a former soccer star at Ephrata and Messiah College, for inspiring him to begin running. Leah is now the head women’s soccer coach at Lebanon Valley College.

After 3½ years his wife encouraged him to run with her and eventually they ran a 5K on the Rail Trail, and he was hooked.

“It’s funny, said McDermott, “I was never a runner before. I played and coached football, but never was interested in running.

“For a wedding gift, the prosthetic company had given me a running leg, but I didn’t open it until after my first race. So I actually ran my first race on a different leg,” McDermott said.

In October of 2016, he and Leah ran their first half Marathon in Hershey. At that point, McDermott decided to try to quality for the Boston Marathon.

In order to qualify to for the Boston Marathon, you first have to run in a qualifying race and McDermott did so by competing in the Disney Marathon in the fall of 2018.

“Leah has been my inspiration throughout this process,” said McDermott. “We would run together all the time. Now since our son Brock was born seven weeks ago, Leah hasn’t been able to train with me, so it has been more difficult. It definitely has been a challenge without her.”

McDermott works at Power Train Sports and that too has helped him through his challenges.

“I never looked back and wondered why me,” offered McDermott. “I have looked at this as a challenge and something I wanted to do.”

McDermott, who puts in about 150 miles of training per month, will head to Boston for Monday’s marathon. He isn’t worried about times, he is just happy for the opportunity.

“I am just grateful for the opportunity to run,” he said.

And what will be going through his mind when he toes the line at the starting gate Monday?

“I’m just going to take it all in,” he said. “I’ve been told a lot about the race. The first half is downhill so I just need to make sure I’m sticking to my pace, running my race and not getting overwhelmed with all the people, the crowd…I just want to enjoy the experience. I put in the work so I know that now it’s time to put that work to the test.”




  1. Jennifer Buffington

    April 11, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    My accident was along the Coastal Highway in Dewey Beach, DE as well. Fate man. Get it done! We believe in you!

  2. Sister Suzanne, Ihm

    April 15, 2019 at 10:21 am

    Brian and his wife deserve slot of credit. It goes to show that true love is uplifting and encouraging.I wish him the very best. Congrats on the new baby.

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