Local veteran hopes to qualify for Boston Marathon’s first ever para athlete division

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Competitive runners are gearing up for the Towpath Marathon in Cuyahoga Valley National Park on Sunday, and a local veteran is hoping the race will be a stepping stone to the premier marathon in the world.

30-year-old Peter Keating of Copley is trying to qualify for the 2021 Boston Marathon, and his goal is to compete in the marathon’s first ever para athlete division.

In May of 2017, Keating was a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. One day on his way to work, Sgt. Keating stopped to help a fellow Marine involved in a car crash. While on the side of the road, he was struck by another car and suffered life altering injuries that includes an open fracture of his lower leg and ankle.

“I saw my leg and my eyes just got big and I freaked out, I had no idea how bad it was,” he said.

For the next year and a half, doctors attempted to rehabilitate his leg, but it was not functioning, so he made a difficult decision.

“Let’s cut this thing off, it’s too painful, I can’t do anything with it, I  was still changing bandages, I was still bleeding six months out,” said Keating.

A major factor in his decision to have his leg amputated was his goal to run again, and he was in the gym three days after the surgery.

“They said I was insane, it’s impossible, it’s crazy, you’re going to hurt yourself,” he said.

60 days after the surgery, Sgt. Keating was fitted for a running blade and ran one lap. Two months later, he ran a half marathon and three months after that, he completed a full marathon, 26.2 miles.

He has been working with Kimberly Bernato, a certified prosthetist orthotist with the VA in Cleveland, on an updated running blade that will enable him to run without pain and for longer distances, a year and a half after the amputation.

“He is doing something that no one has done before, so for him to accomplish this is huge, huge, we’re very proud of him here,” said Bernato.

With his new blade, Sgt. Keating says he feels no pain when he is running.

“The blade that I use absorbs so much of the impact, I don’t feel it, it’s almost like running on a trampoline,” he said.

Sgt. Keating is competing in the Towpath Marathon this weekend, and if he completes the race in less than 5 hours 40 minutes, he will quality for next year’s Boston Marathon.

He hopes his story is an inspiration to anyone else facing a challenge.

“I want them to see that Peter can do it, and look at him, why can’t I do it, I want to give them hope,” he said.

Keating is optimistic that he will qualify, because he has running a full two hours faster than the qualifying standard for the marathon’s para athlete division.

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