My hero always beats me by a second

Preston McNurlen with his sister and mother as well as running coach.


As the IMT Des Moines marathon took place on Sunday, October 16, Preston McNurlen could be seen and heard whooping and hollering as the wind blew against his face. Preston, a junior at Sigourney High School, has cerebral palsy. While in the same grade as his sister Madi, it can be said that she may be one of his biggest fans, attending every event to cheer him on from the sidelines, along with parents Jake and Sonia McNurlen.

            Preston’s love for running began four years ago. While Jenny Thompson was working at the Sigourney schools and son Casey Thompson started getting more involved in physical fitness with the opening of Fountain Fitness, Jenny introduced Casey to Preston, knowing that the two could share this common interest. “The McNurlen family is the true definition of family. They are just as invested in Casey and his family as Casey is his. When Casey had approached me about wanting to team up with someone who was not able to enjoy physical activity on his/her own and could benefit from the companionship, I instantly thought of Preston. Casey is such a selfless person, always wanting to help others and the McNurlen family is exactly the same way. They are a very loving, selfless family and I knew that Preston and Casey would benefit from one another. They are the perfect fit ”, Jenny said.

            From that day, the bond has grown and you can find the two running the streets of Sigourney. Casey said over the course of the last five years, they have traveled over 100 miles together. Most would say that Casey is an inspiration to Preston, but Casey will tell you that Preston is the true inspiration. “He pushes me to be a better person. He is the reason that I do what I do. Atmospherically, he just makes the world a better place. He always beats me by a second”, says Casey about Preston

            From the first run that the two were in together on July 3, 2013, Preston has always been in positive spirits by pulling Casey along and building momentum. While Casey takes the hills, Preston pulls Casey along to keep him going. Preston endures all of the same conditions; including weather, climate, mud, debris and other elements that the runners endure. The one thing that Preston enjoys the most is the company along the trail, especially that of an attractive female opponent.

            “In a marathon you will love and hate yourself within 5 minutes of each other...over and over again...but you keep keep define yourself with each foot forward...and all the while helping someone else fulfill their dream with each step. Today we honored fallen officers and tried to send a message that we are all in this, white, people of all races and disabilities alike. We live in a crazy world...but we can make it better with each day and act of kindness. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort someone else with each opportunity and live life to the fullest no matter what obstacle you encounter. Never take more than you give and above all...NEVER GIVE UP!” Casey said following the IMT marathon.

            Preston has competed in over eight races to date from the Fourth of July runs to other various races around the area. He works very hard to be prepared for race days. This is the longest route that Preston has been on to date, but Casey hopes that the Iron Man is in their future, as the story of the two has just begun.