Dad finishes NYC marathon with baby in arms

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NEW YORK (WTHR) — Robby Ketchell is a scientist and experienced runner. He's run trail races and even a 100-mile ultramarathon, but Sunday's New York City Marathon was his first.

That wasn't the only reason it was special.

After a photographer captured a sweet photo of Ketchell carrying his baby across the finish line, he wrote about the moment — and the entire experience — on runnersworld.com.


Ketchell's 7-month-old son, Wyatt, was born with Down syndrome. His wife, Marya, told NBC New York Wyatt had gone through more in his seven months of life than many will in an entire lifetime.

In addition to spending his first 67 days of life in the NICU, Wyatt will have open heart surgery in April. "He's the best, bravest person we know," Marya said.

Robby said he knew he wanted to run the marathon for his son, but along with that, he set some lofty goals for himself.

He worked with LuMind Research, a group dedicated to researching treatments for Down syndrome, to make a goal of raising $3,210 for the foundation. He also set a goal of finishing his marathon in 3 hours and 21 minutes.

The goals represent the three copies of the 21st chromosome people with Down syndrome have.

The fundraising goal proved to be much easier to accomplish than the marathon time. He raised more than $11,000.

Robby said he was not able to train like he had in the past due to Wyatt's medical needs. He showed up to the start line underprepared and injured. But he would still give it his all to make the time.

"By mile 8 I knew I was in trouble," he wrote. He said by mile 17, he knew he didn't have a chance, but instead of totally giving up, he made a decision to finish with his baby.


He texted his wife at mile 20 to meet him with Wyatt. They met up at mile 26, and he finished the race, walking across the finish line with Wyatt in his arms.

Dad post! I left nothing out there. Was on pace for 7:30 min/mile average for 20 miles. Could have backed off and gone for a 3:40, but that’s not what we came for. I went until the lights went out. Then I finished it off and walked in with my best friend. Thank you to all the fam and friends and our tribe for your support. #ThisIsForMyBestFriend #Tour_de_Wyatt #WarriorsFinishStrong #theluckyfew #themighty #thisisdownsyndrome #downsyndromeawareness #upsyndrome #running #runningmotivation #runningwithpurpose #homieswithextrachromies #lumind #theluckyfew

A post shared by Marya Ketchell (@tour_de_wyatt) on


Robby had put Wyatt's name on his bib instead of his own. As he was finishing the race, he said spectators were chanting Wyatt's name the whole time.

Robby plans to race again next year, with the same goal of finishing in 3 hours and 21 minutes.

Follow Wyatt's story on Instagram run by Marya here.

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