Iron Heart Brian Boyle Completes First Ultramarathon (JFK 50)

11/23/2010 - 19:01

By Jared Little
In 2007 Brian Boyle competed in his first Ironman triathlon and finished in a time of 14 hours and 42 minutes. Two weeks ago (Nov. 6) in Florida he dropped over 4.5 hours when he finished his third Ironman in a time of 10 hours and 14 minutes. With limited recovery, this past Saturday (Nov. 20) he competed in his first ultramarathon/trail event when he ran in the JFK 50 Mile, which is the oldest ultramarathon in the country. Due to the very technical terrain and also the endurance needed to run to course, some don’t even make it to the finish line - Brian finished in 9:50:16.

What is even more incredible than the fact that Brian competes in these ultra endurance events is the fact that six years ago Brian was clinically pronounced dead 8 times after being involved in a near fatal car accident.

The impact of the crash violently ripped his heart across his chest, shattering his ribs/clavicle/pelvis, collapsing his lungs, damage to every single organ and failure of his kidneys and liver, removal of spleen and gallbladder, bloodloss of 60%, severe nerve damage to the left shoulder, and in a coma where he was on life support for over two months.

As far as the future, it didn't exist. He was going to need 24 hour care the rest of his life. Walking was never going to happen again due to all the extreme injuries and because of the shattered pelvis. The thought of swimming was just that, only a thought. Just like his body, his dreams were shattered. Everyone kept saying, “Just be happy you’re alive Brian”, but he never gave up.

After spending two months in a coma, 14 operations, 36 blood transfusions, 13 plasma treatments, he lost a total of 100 pounds and had to go to a rehabilitation center in Baltimore; he had to learn how to talk, eat, shower, and live independently again.

After spending a few months in a wheelchair, he took baby steps to walk on his own. It was a miracle that he could walk again, but he wanted to push even further and not only walk, but run; he ran on the track team throughout his junior and high school athletic career.

During his road to recovery that began in the summer of 2004, he has graduated college with honors, published a book (Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back From the Dead), competed in eight marathons (PB: 3:38), 5 half-Ironman’s (PB: 5:02), three Ironman’s (PB: 10:14), and one ultramarathon (PB: 9:50:16). As a two time American Red Cross Spokesman of the Year, he strives to live everyday to the fullest.

Brian, known as "Iron Heart" around the world, has set his sights on competing in many more marathons, ultramarathons, and Ironmans. In the future he wants to run Badwater, and qualify for the Boston marathon and the Hawaii Ironman.

He’s been called a dreamer but he admits if he didn’t have dreams, he wouldn’t have made it out of Room 19 in the Intensive Care Unit. Boyle states, “When I compete in these endurance events, I think about everyone who has helped me along my journey back to life. When I cross the finish line, it is my way of thanking them for always believing in me, through both sickness and in health. It is because of them that life isn’t just good anymore, it is great”.

To Brian, running is all about the experience and the thrill of the challenge where every breath is an achievement and every step is a victory.

To learn more about Brian’s story and his recent experience of running in his first ultramarathon , please visit his blog:

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