Army vet without leg finishes Boston Marathon in honor of bombing victims

By Melissa Renahan on April 21, 2014

Edward Lychik isn't running from something, he's running toward it. Lychik, who moved from the Ukraine to Puyallup when he was just a child, joined the Army because he'd always wanted to give back. Then, in a terrible twist of fate, he was grievously injured during a deployment to Afghanistan on what was his 21st birthday.

The injury resulted in the amputation of his left leg at the hip and during his early recovery, Lychik was told that he would walk again but probably need assistance.

"I used to envision that I was running while lying in bed with this new prosthetic leg. ... I realized that if I wanted to get there I had to start believing in myself, getting my physical fitness back on track and exploring what I could do," Lychik explained. "I knew my potential."

Today, Lychik, 23, is providing motivation to anyone he meets and defying odds by running routinely on a custom-designed prosthetic leg.  

"Ed is very motivated and understands the way his body uses the technology attached to his body," said Ryan Blanck, a prosthetist from the Tacoma Hanger Clinic. "I benefit from working with him."

Blanck, who Lychik described as a prosthetic master, had worked previously with the wounded warrior at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio when he was doing rehab and first being fitted for a new limb.

Six months after first learning how to run with the prosthetic leg, Lychik decided to try a marathon in Austin and found that it was tougher than he'd anticipated.

"I began to question myself. Then I realized I wasn't running for myself but for the people who supported me and for other amputees who might be struggling to take the first step," Lychik shared.

Prior to the injury, Lychik liked to run but he was far from a competitive runner or marathon entrant. However, he is more active now than ever before and, according to Blanck, he is easy because of his dedication, yet challenging because his needs are more advanced.

"Running with a prosthetic is a whole other level," Blank said.

The run leg uses a spring blade as the foot to optimize advancement forward and drive the runner to the next step; it is harnessed around his hips and fitted with a socket at the top that will require updates as time goes by. With this leg, Lychik runs an average of eight miles a day on all sorts of surfaces at a competitive 9-10 minute pace. 

"Ed has an infectious sort of drive and he puts out that life has more positive to offer if you just go forward and get past the challenges," offered Blanck, who typically meets with Lychik once a week and occasionally joins him for a run.

Lychik recently traveled to Boston to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon as part of the team running in honor of the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation, the non-profit created by the parents of Martin Richard, 8, who was the youngest person killed during the attack at the marathon last year. His younger sister was also injured that day, losing her own left leg.

"I am going to run because I want them to see that whatever adversity comes, there is a way to overcome it," Lychik stated. "The Richard family can see that hundreds of thousands support them and are there to offer encouragement."

Lychik completed the Boston Marathon today in 4:44.25 with a 10:51 average pace.